Music and video is continuing to move to all-digital formats, and that's hurting companies that specialize in "old-fashioned" formats like CDs and DVDs. The Wilkes-Barre, Pa., CitizensVoice.com had a story on Dec. 19 about the Cinram International Inc. plant in Olyphant, Pa., that continues to shed jobs as consumer tastes change. "Cinram workers ready for goodbye" explains how the workforce there -- which once numbered in the thousands -- now is down to 500. The job losses were expected -- Toronto-based Cinram in February lost its biggest contract, with Warner Home Video Inc. which had accounted for about 28 percent of Cinram's US$1.5 billion in 2009 sales. But even with the loss of the Warner Home Video work, companies that manufacture plastic media for the entertainment industry are losing business -- to the convenience of digital downloads. According to the most recent statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America, a total of 1.13 billion music singles were downloaded in 2009. That compares to 292.9 million CDs. (As recently as 1996, there were 778.9 million CDs sold, according to RIAA). Every few weeks I notice a newspaper feature on the "rebirth" of music on vinyl, but that's really a niche market. Vinyl LP/EP sales rose to 3.2 million units in 2009, up from 2.9 million in 2008. But the 1996 total was also 2.9 million units. Some music fans may lament the digital download trend. But it's really a sustainability story -- this is an industry that's done away packaging, solid waste, energy consumption and material use. Not to mention a heck of a lot of jobs.
Plastic formats, digital downloads and jobs
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