Starbucks to halt CD sales in Canada next month

An advertisements for the Paul McCartney CD album 'Memory Almost Full' at a Starbucks store in 2007. Starbucks will end compact disc sales next month. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Has anyone broken the news to Michael Bublé? The Canadian singer’s To Be Loved album is about to be yanked from Starbucks locations across the country.

But Bublé isn’t alone, with many other artists about to see their records pulled from their perch next to the cash register at Starbucks’ Canadian coffeehouses next month. Royalty cheques destined for Justin Timberlake, Depeche Mode and Eric Clapton — three artists Starbucks is featuring in Canada at the moment — will be halted or pared back, too.

A Starbucks Coffee Canada spokesperson confirmed Friday that, sadly, the chain’s cafes across North America will be ending compact-disc sales at the end of March. “We will no longer be selling physical CDs in U.S. or Canada stores,” Starbucks spokesperson Carly Suppa said in an email.

MORE: Starbucks set to serve beer, wine in Canada this year

Don’t fear for Bublé though. The Canadian singer hasn’t likely been tying his financial security to Starbucks CD sales for a while now. According to Nielsen data, compact-disc sales have cratered in Canada much like in other markets as downloads and now streaming services have turned the CD into a textbook case study in technological disruption.

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Sales collapse

Somewhat amazingly, Canadians still purchased 16.5 million compact discs last year, Nielsen data show. That’s down seven per cent from 2013 and represents about half the number of physical album sales made in 2008 (32.5 million).

For Starbucks, what was a multimillion-dollar source of sales a decade ago will be officially phased out in about six weeks. A 2006 Billboard article cited annual physical album sales at the coffee chain of 3.6 million units, or approximately $65 million (U.S.) in music revenue.

Could CDs stage a comeback? Consider this: Canadian hipsters and wax enthusiasts snapped up 400,000 vinyl records last year or a 71 per cent pop versus the prior 12-month stretch. “A bright spot for the industry is the continued resurgence of Vinyl LPs,” David Bakula at Nielsen Entertainment said.

Comment on whether Starbucks is considering a move into vinyl wasn’t immediately available.
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WATCH: Starbucks, one of the biggest coffee chains in Canada, has decided to go beyond lattes and add beer and wine to its menu. Robin Gill has the details.

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