When it comes to buying albums, Canadians still prefer the high sound quality of CDs over lower bit rate digital, scratchy vinyl, and hissing cassette as 2019 data reveals. Nielsen Music Canada has released the numbers for the year 2019. Through the year, Canadians purchased a total of 10.4 million albums. The majority of these, 5.5 million or 52.9%, were compact discs (CDs). Second in format rank is digital; downloads accounted for 36.5% or 3.8 million albums. The third most popular format is vinyl; a total of 1 million of those or 9.6% were sold. Finally, we have the cassette. Nielsen did not carry numbers for those but gave a 0.1 million higher in the total figure than the sum of the three prior formats. We’ll be generous and, rather than writing it off to the result of rounding, give the 0.1 or 1% to the trusty cassette and present the pie chart below.
Another way of looking at the numbers is that 63.5% of albums sold were in any physical format, while 36.5% were digital.
It is important to note that availability influences the numbers. For example, if an album is not available on CD, those wanting a copy may settle for a digital download.
Album sales as a whole have been in decline since 1997 with blame being directed at first to MP3s and internet piracy, followed by the enticing option of downloading some individual tracks only, and now to streaming services where people pay regularly for access (if they choose to subscribe and kill the ads) rather than owning copies of albums.