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Music: Digital vs Physical 2022

Is Society Coming to the End of Music Formats? - The Future Music Survey [1]

When The Future Music Survey 1 was conducted, data was collected with over 200 individuals participating globally.

Here are shared exerts of this primary CCM data, combined with various 3rd party data statistics and research.

The images provided have been created as part of an overarching research project, with some pages available here for public viewing, whilst others have been redacted.

*Please note that infographics have been created for a visual reference only and have not been created with absolute matching percentile figures.


1 - A historical Timeline of Technological Music Mediums

2 - Digital Music Market Share 2021

3 - Environmental Impacts of the Music Industry

4 - So has Society Come to the End of Physical Music Formats?

5 - The Future Music Survey [1]: Data Analysis and Future Questions

6 - Impacts, Intentions and Usage of Data Research

7 - To Conclude

8 - Reference List

A historical Timeline of Technological Music Mediums

In order to understand better the question of whether physical music mediums are coming to a close, it is important to understand better the chronological timeline of how humanity got to the position that it sees itself in today. All mediums presented in this timeline have affected sociological behaviours and culture to some degree and, as such, have been written about by numerous scholars.

1879 - 1950

1960 - Present Day

Digital Music Market Share 2021

Here are presented figures of music streaming service saturation in regard to various global markets for the financial year 2021. These figures help us better understand whether the music industry shows a worldwide trend of moving towards a wholly digital market landscape.

As you will see, the answer isn't as clear-cut as it would seem.

Developed Countries Digital Music Market Share Saturation Percentage

Developing Countries Digital Music Market Share Share Saturation Percentage

Where some statistics are of course obvious, others are not so much so and leads to some interesting suggestions. From the data observed, it is apparent that even developing countries with emerging markets, can have a higher music streaming service saturation percentile than those of developed countries.

Such as South Africa VS Japan, where South Africa appears to have a higher streaming service penetration percentage than Japan, and this is probably due to a variety of factors. However, it should be noted that Japan's populace is still very much a tangible asset-based economy for its medium format consumption. This is not only in the concerns of music, but also DVD’s where rental shops are prevalent and preowned book shops like Bookoff are highly popular.

Or how it is reported that streaming in India now has a dominant market share of 90%, which if true, has enormous benefits in regards to sustainability and waste.

*It should be of note that while information here is from credible sources, the data is limited to the sample set sizes that were created and so understanding of real-world figures may be of different values.

Environmental Impacts of the Music Industry

Two prominent sets of data should be considered when asking have streaming services allowed the music industry to become more carbon-neutral;

These are

1 – How many CDs were manufactured at the height of their dominance in the year 2000?

2 – How many CDs were manufactured in 2021?

According to RIAA (2022), for America alone, in 2000, the sales volume of CDs equalled 942.5 million Units sold. Fast forward to the fiscal year of 2021, where data shows only 31.6 million units were sold in America.

From this, It can only be hoped that due to the trend of declining sales for CD technology, fewer CDs are, being manufactured on a global scale, as by doing so, humankind in America alone has gone from using 14,137.5 tonnes of various earth elements in 2000 to just 474 tonnes of various earth elements in 20212, with this statistic being for America alone, a decrease of 13665.5 tonnes or 97% potential E-waste material.

Just to put this into context that’s the roughly same tonnage in savings as the entire weight of the Shard in material.

Every. Year.

So has Society Come to the End of Physical Music Formats?

Yes? No? Maybe?

As always, the answer leads itself to ask more questions. For the first time in two decades, as of 2022, the CD has increased in sales numbers. Furthermore, the CD is not the only physical medium to increase its sales volume; Tape and Vinyl also increased sales percentages according to the RIAA.

Not only this but the prediction or data of physical format use in developing countries is hard to ascertain. However, it can be assumed that physical formats will still reign supreme for countries with undeveloped internet access or capabilities.

The Future Music Survey [1]: Data Analysis and Future Questions

A data-driven survey was created in May of 2022 with the intention of finding out how individuals consume popular music formats.

This data was produced via a survey of questions hosted on; by the end of the survey, over 230 people had participated.

Data analysis was then given by Data Analyst Qianru Lai (MS), who uses the programming language “R” to conduct data processing, data cleaning, data visualisation and build a Logit Regression model to examine the correlation between variables.

Only 28% of participants had brought a CD since 2020, Whereas 63% of people had brought vinyl, and a higher 81% of people of respondents chose to listen to music via streaming services (with the remaining 18% of respondents to the question 'how often do you use a streaming service' answering as such; 4% Never listen to music on streaming services, 5% listen to music once a month on music streaming services, and 10% listen to music via streaming services once a week).

Our research suggests and a conclusion was gathered from our sample set where:

Findings suggest that there is a pattern regarding CD consumption vs music streaming services, and as such it appears that the latter solution does indeed substitute for CD purchasing habits.

However, this is not the case with vinyl consumption and music streaming, where purchasing habits appear to be somewhat complementary, with sample set data indicating that users who go to events and stream music are more likely to purchase vinyl than those who didn’t.

This does further future questions such as

  1. Do CDs still need to be manufactured in 2022?

  2. Has the Music Industry truly made improvements in its carbon footprint?

  3. Are streaming services the ultimate music format?

Impacts, Intentions and Usage of Data Research

Data can help us change the world, it can help us as a species understand fundamental issues with our society, in the hopes that we can fix problems, end suffering and be more harmonious with our planet.

Sociological Change

The primary purpose of the Information gathered data sets is to contribute as an asset to help humankind tackle climate destruction. The United Nations (UN) (2022) remind us, “Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods.”


With the further understanding created from this documentation, it can be shown that physical formats for developed countries need not be produced. It is hoped that with larger sample set sizes and a deeper understanding of international and national British culture, a more robust pattern appears that, like others before, can help aid governance in an active change of sustainability.

To Conclude

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who got involved with The Future Music Survey 1, The support for this site and the work that has been happening here has been incredible!

There are so many more questions to ask and many more surveys to come, with the hopes of giving creators software, listeners music and events tickets and much, much more as time progresses.

Here at CCM, everything is still in its infancy, but to watch this grow into a community of people has been truly awe-inspiring.

33 Blogs in the first month, 21 of which are software so others can create, 5 being conversations with some truly amazing people and other bits on this research and technology, that is just so fascinating.

And it doesn't stop here, so if you made it this far thank you for reading, I truly appreciate your time. There is a whole host of exciting new content that is being created in the background, so be sure to come back and check regularly!

I'd also like to give a massive thanks to partner brand of the survey Sub-Liminal Recordings! This work couldn't have been completed alone!

CCM - Chris


Check out The One Min Convo, for short stories from around the globe!

Reference List

Gurbaxiani A., (2022) ‘A look at the current state of the Indian music industry’, Available at:

Made How., (2022), ‘Compact Disc Background’, Available at:

PRTIMES., (2021) ‘Testy conducts a survey on "flat-rate music distribution service" for 6,642 men and women in their 20s and 30s’, Available at:

Statista., (2022) ‘Digital share of overall music sales in the United Kingdom from 2004 to 2021’ , Available at:

Statista., (2022) ‘Share of streaming in total music revenues in the United States from 2010 to 2021’ , Available at:

Statista., (2021) ‘Penetration rate of music streaming among internet users in Brazil from 2017 to 2021’ , Available at:

Statista., (2021), ‘Have you spent money on digital music content or podcasts in the past 12 months?’, Available at:
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