The figures for Orelsan’s latest album are crazy: 15,000 people pre-ordered it in one morning. It has sold almost 95,000 copies in three days since its release. It must be said that he made salivate with an ingenious concept: to offer fifteen different versions of his CD, including an ultra limited edition signed by his hand. Today, it sometimes sells for several thousand euros. So, can we say that it has revived a certain CD hype or is it a questioning of Parisian-cyclist to think of it in these terms? Surely. Because, in reality, this format is far from dead.
“The CD still sells more than vinyl in the vast majority of countries”, underlines Sophian Fanen, journalist and author of Boulevard du stream – From mp3 to Deezer, free music. Above all, the streaming platforms did not kill it… even if we believed it for a long time. “When the mp3 format, peer-to-peer and torrents turned the music economy upside down before streaming, it was the CD that took it all in the face., recalls Sophian Fanen. This is where sales started to drop because we were in a change of use and habit. ” So yes, at the time, it was him that we saw fall and that we gave for dead. Especially since, in addition, it had become a much too disposable object. Who remembers the free CD in their Big Mac menu? Musically infamous hit compilations that only had the quality of being heady? So the Casseurs Flowters (duo between Orelsan and Gringe) themselves didn’t care: “Your son of a bitch album, I throw an atomic bomb on it / I download it illegally and I blow my hard drive.” It has the merit of being clear (and sarcastic, we agree).
Except that Orelsan, at 39, grew up in the 1990s. This little piece of plastic that is the CD represented 98% of the music economy at that time. Same for Ed Sheeran, 30, whose last album Divide remained number one in sales in England for twenty weeks. Adele – 33 years old! -, has sold more than 20 million copies of her album 25. All of them built the bases of their first musical emotions with the CD format. This explains why this format never really disappeared, according to Sophian Fanen: “We have a generation of artists who grew up with their parents’ CDs, not their vinyls. In the case of Orelsan, we also see that the aesthetics of its limited editions are very nostalgic. ”
Yes, very 1990’s vibes.
It is with the same energy and nostalgia that the YouTuber Squeezie launched a challenge for one of his last videos: to create a tube atmosphere of the 2000s in just three days against another team … then sell these sounds in format Two-track CD, for the benefit of Secours populaire. Old.
“The singles came out in a small cardboard sleeve, I had Lorie’s!”, he has fun in his video. Its strategy is also well established: to sell certain copies at 4.90 euros in LIDL stores – even if it has been more than ten years that the brand has not sold CDs in its stores. As a result, his song “Trei Degete” – inspired by O-zone’s cheapos hit, “Dragosta Din Tei” – sold 60,000 copies in just one week. Very nice performance, especially for an artist who addresses a generation who mainly grew up with streaming and who no longer really have a CD player.
But if to think that the CD is dead is perhaps a postulate of parisian-cyclist, it is because today there are different profiles of people who buy them: those who have kept their habits of the 1990s and 2000s, therefore, but also those who take the car. Even if, as pointed out in a survey by the Parisian, many new car models have been designed without a CD player, and rather with a touch-sensitive dashboard to go to Spotify and Deezer – clearly less cumbersome than your binder with transparent pockets where you put away your records. In fact, the longest-lasting share of people who buy CDs are those with a physical attachment: “Having something in your hands, an object that has been thought through, is very satisfying, Admet Sophian Fanen. It’s funny to see Orelsan with his concept. We see him at the factory with his friends, they are like crazy in front of the CDs. We often remember when and where we bought our record, unlike streaming. It’s precious. ”
Vinyl, a thing for the rich
Above all, streaming and vinyl have their limits. Already, the sound of a CD would be much better than that of streaming or vinyl. In 2014, sound professionals from The Guardian magazine took the test by listening to songs in mp3, CD or studio masters. One of them found that he had “Struggled to tell the difference between the CD and the studio master”. Another than the CD track “Was the best listen”.
But hey, let’s face it: for a lot of people, the difference is not really noticeable. Worse, they don’t really care if the sound is worse, as long as they can listen to it with their phones everywhere in the street. Even if it means mocking what the artist wanted to convey? This is what Adele lamented. The singer regrets that playing the discs on Spotify – including 30, his latest album – is set to shuffle by default. In other words, that the listeners do not listen to her album as she wanted to build and present it. Neither one nor two, the platform has changed its algorithm. Now an album will be played in the default order.
And why the CD rather than the vinyl? Because vinyl is a rich man’s thing. Orelsan’s latest album costs around fifteen euros on CD. It would take ten euros more to have it on platinum. And today, it is more and more difficult and expensive to squeeze. The National Federation of Independent Labels and Distributors is also moved in a press release published a few days ago. The origin of the crisis is a shortage of raw materials including polymer, essential for the manufacture of vinyl. As a result, manufacturing times are lengthened and prices are rising.
And it is not Adele or other giga stars who will arrange the schmilblick: the singer would have ordered 500,000 vinyl pressings of her last album, according to Variety, monopolizing the production factories. In fact, isn’t it better to go back to our good old compact disc of families? “It’s far from being a bad format”, concludes Sophian Fanen. He has mostly been battered by history but will surely never die. And that, Orelsan understood it well.