Nathan S. 's avatar

On Kid Cudi, Tyga & The Impending Death of the CD

Posted by Nathan S. on 02/29/12 | Filed under Features
Yesterday Kid Cudi went on an extended rant aimed at his label Universal, accusing them of under-shipping copies of his new rap/rock/etc. album "WZRD", forcing him to apologize to fans who couldn't find a copy in stores:

"Ok so just a heads up, my weak ass label only shipped 55k physicals cuz they treated this like some indie side project tax right off. So i apologize on behalf of my weak ass major label. And I apologize for the lack of promo, again, my weak ass major label. They tried to rush me thru this so i can just give em another MOTM, but guess what? Fuck that, next album is WZRD. MOTM3 on hold til 2014.

who mad??? not me and @DotDaGenius : ) So its def gonna be tough to find one in the stores guys, I’m sorry about that. I gotta go out and find one too, becuz my weak ass label never even gave us a copy of our own album. FAIL!!! Im lettin Universal Republic have it, fuck it. What they gon’ do, spank me?? hahahaha."

It was a situation that immediately reminded me of Tyga's "Careless World" release last week, in which copies were pulled off shelves due to sample clearance issues, forcing him to apologize to fans who couldn't find a copy in stores:

I had the same reaction to both situations - wait, people still buy CDs in stores? Do they call the stores first to see if they're open using a rotary phone?

And yes, I know I'm being kind of a dick with that joke. While I literally can't remember the last time I bought a CD from a store, and I can't remember the last time anyone (literally anyone) I know bought a CD from a store, there are still plenty of people out there who do. In all seriousness, I'm lucky enough to have a computer and smartphone and internet access and all sorts of shit that a lot of people out there just can't afford. But it's really only a matter of time before nearly everyone buys music digitally.

So what I can't understand is why Cudi and Tyga didn't just say, "Sorry to everyone who went to the store and couldn't find a copy, but you don't have to wait. You can buy my album on iTunes right now. It'll take you literally two minutes, you won't have to leave your house, and I guarantee that it will never be out of copies, even considering my weak ass label."

The might as well get the practice in because even the labels admit that CDs probably have five more years, tops, before they go the way of the cassette tape and 8-track. Labels, and to a lesser extent artists, love CDs because they make more money of a CD purchase than an iTunes purchase, plain and simple. But that profit margin is falling faster than Tip Drill. (Sorry, too soon?)

Stores like Best Buy and Target are less willing to give valuable floor space to CDs considering the plummeting demand. If you were Target, would you rather have a smartphone display at the front of your store, or a CD display? Exactly.

The problem has become so bad that that labels are now increasingly forced to literally pay stores just to carry their albums, which further cuts into their once absurd profit margins - and frankly its for the best. CD sales have allowed labels to desperately cling onto the past instead of seriously investing in the digital-only future. Maybe now we'll finally see them figure their shit out - and we won't ever have to hear Kid Cudi complain about his week ass label under-shipping his albums again.

Or the labels will continue to hang onto physical sales like a drunk chick at closing time, just hoping customers are too drunk to care they're ugly. And if they do then they'll really be signing their own death certificate.

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