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With Streaming And Vinyl Growing — What About CDs?

Dave Royse

Between the still-growing music streaming services and the return of vinyl, the compact disc is in danger of disappearing.

As the medium becomes more rare, some of those CDs stacked up on your bookshelf could actually be valuable.

Most won’t, of course. For financial purposes, most are no more of an antique goldmine than cassette tapes.

But there are a few rare CDs that still could fetch some serious coin.

Is It The Real Slim Shady?

Before you chuck them in the garbage, see if you have Eminem’s 1997 "Slim Shady EP" from 1997. Likely you don’t, because only 250 copies of it were sold, and only a few more than that made. 

The CD has sold online for more than $800, and on Amazon, it starts at nearly $6,000. Without shipping.

According to a Michael Jackson memorabilia and collectors’ website, a withdrawn two-track Austrian version of the King of Pop’s “Smile” CD is one of the rarest and most sought Jackson memorabilia items, and could fetch $1,500. The site says watch out, though, because it’s also a frequently bootlegged item.

Jackson’s most valuable vinyl album, by contrast, a Colombian version of 1987’s “Bad,” is only worth about $450.

The Stones, Coldplay

A couple of other highly valuable CDs you should make sure you don’t have before you toss all your old ones:

-The Rolling Stones’ Japanese CD for the 1990 "Steel Wheels" Japan tour. Meant to promote the Japan tour, the 22-track CD is hard to find, and when you do, they might sell for about $1,500.

-Coldplay’s "Safety" EP (1998). Only about 50 copies of this EP ever made it to record stores. You can find them selling online for about $800.

Vinyl And CD Sales

Revenue from streaming music grew 26% in the first half of this year to $4.3 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America

Buying of actual physical recordings — CDs or records — pales in comparison, coming in at just $485 million in the first half of this year. So nobody's getting rich off LPs anymore.

Record stores selling new records are hard to find. The companies actually pressing records are mostly very small, privately held, boutique companies. 

One big company that did get back into vinyl because of its new popularity: Sony Corp (NYSE: SNE), which made a celebrated return to vinyl two years ago.

While CDs still outsell vinyl in terms of units sold by quite a bit, vinyl records have nearly caught up in terms of dollar amount. In the first half of the year, CD sales brought in $248 million, and were essentially flat from last year. 

Vinyl sales grew by more than 10% this year to $224 million.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times said the CD era may be entering "hospice stage."

CD sales have fallen more than 80% over the last decade. As for who is losing out from the disappearance of CDs, it's also a small market, mostly involving pretty small companies.

Related Links:

5 Most Expensive Vinyl Records Ever Sold

Vinyl Records Are Popular Again, So Sony Wants Back In After 30 Years

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