CDs, vinyls still have niche appeal here

CDs, vinyls still have niche appeal here
PHOTO: The Observatory

Music streaming is gaining ground here, but music downloads remain popular even as a niche market for physical music endures despite flagging sales.

Last year, total music sales here increased for the first time in five years due to a rise in digital music sales, of which 31.2 per cent came from music downloads. This is according to data from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a trade organisation.

Single track download sales rose slightly by 1.2 per cent from 2013 to US$1.41 million (S$1.9 million) last year, but full album downloads jumped by 32.8 per cent to US$834,000.

The reason for their popularity? Some consumers prefer to download their tracks and play them offline instead of streaming them online, said some industry experts and consumers.

Music industry players also said that the launch of Apple's iTunes here in 2012 played a part in boosting download sales.

Said 28-year-old writer Tan Yong Xi, who prefers music downloads to streaming: "I prefer to own what I pay for. I want to support the artist. Sometimes, you have to buy the album to get the complete package, as opposed to just downloading singles you like."

But other than digital music, Mr Tan has a passion for CDs and vinyls. Consumers like him are part of a niche group of music fans who still like their music in physical form.

Despite physical music sales falling 24.4 per cent to US$3.4 million last year, industry players said there is still a market for it. Vinyl sales increased slightly by 1.4 per cent to US$67,000 last year. Sales had earlier jumped 160 per cent in 2013.

Lim Teck Kheng, marketing director for Singapore and Malaysia at Universal Music, said the label had a "significant increase" in vinyl sales here last year. He observed more vinyl stores opening in Singapore last year too.

Besides the high music quality of vinyl records, Mr Lim said there is a nostalgia factor at play in attracting music lovers who have experienced vinyl in the past, even as the format gains new, younger fans.

Ang Kwee Tiang, director for Asia at IFPI, said marketing physical music as being "cool" and of a "higher quality" could improve sales too.

For sales and marketing manager Marc Than, quality is precisely what draws him to vinyls and CDs. "The quality of vinyls (compared with digital tracks) is amazing," gushed the 31-year-old.

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