CDs becoming a charity case

Published: March 28, 2006 | 3873rd good news item since 2003

Music fans once had a reputation for obsessively assembling their CDs into neat alphabetised rows, but the days of the cherished CD collection seem numbered as the iPod generation puts all of its music on to computers.

The charity Scope said today that its 300 stores were being inundated with donated CDs, as more and more people trim their collections – or even get rid of them altogether to free up space.

Meanwhile, the online auction site eBay invoked memories of EU food mountains when it said a “CD mountain” was fast being created and that the average person could make hundreds of pounds by selling their collections.

After surveying 1,000 UK households, eBay estimated music from CDs worth £17.2bn will have been transferred to MP3 players in Britain by December.

The firm calculated that if every CD in the UK was sold second hand, the value would be £52bn.

It said there were 7.38 billion CDs in the UK, with an average of 164 CDs per person.

A collection of that size would have a resale value of about £1,150, based on a resale price of £7 a CD. Many albums would be unlikely to fetch that sum at a second-hand music store, however.

The eBay research is unlikely to delight the music industry, which is also fighting illegal downloading and file sharing.

But Charlie Coney, an eBay spokesman, denied that increased second hand sales of CDs posed a threat to the industry.

He said: “If anything the iPod generation has encouraged people to get more into their music. And bands like the Arctic Monkeys started thanks to the way they used the internet to get publicity.”

“People might have a certain attachment to the CDs in their collection. But once you’ve replaced your favourite albums with their MP3 counterparts, CDs become little more than tea coasters,” Mr Coney added.

He acknowledged, however, that rare and special edition CDs remained valuable.

“You can make a lot of money if you have something rare – for example, an Arctic Monkeys EP on CD, which came out just last year, is now going for £75. What we are also seeing are people getting rid of their unused CD collections and investing in vinyl, which is obviously more collectable.”

A spokesman for Scope said that staff had reported “sack loads” more CDs had been donated since MP3 players started to become cheaper and more popular.

“And it’s not just Max Bygraves CDs – some of them are recent material. Staff at the stores say they are seeing hundreds more CDs,” he said.

The eBay research suggested music fans could reclaim 23,000 miles of shelf space if every British CD collection disappeared.

On average, one CD is sold on eBay’s UK site every seven seconds, with Madonna the top selling artist followed by Queen, Elvis, the Beatles and Oasis.

But some music fans say they did not spend many years and big sums of money assembling CD collections to start disposing of them now.

Graham Tonks, 30, an accountant from Lanchester, County Durham, has an iPod but is in no hurry to sell his 1,000-plus CDs, for which he spent three days building special shelves.

He said: “Music sounds much better from a CD played on a decent stereo than on an MP3 player, and I am a sucker for special edition CDs and enjoy the artwork and everything about them.

“And what happens if your computer crashes and you lose everything? I know you can back things up, but at least I know I have all of the music safe and stored on something I can actually touch.”

Published in Charity
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