It’s the end of an era for bricks-and-mortar music retail in far north Queensland, as a raft of Sanity stores close their doors.

All three Sanity outlets in Cairns are set to close later in January, and one of the two Townville stores — Sanity Stockland — shuts for good this Sunday (Jan. 16), the Townville Bulletin reports.

Sanity Stockland, described by the news title as a “holy grail” for music fans in Townsville, is going out with a bang — a clearance sale, with many items reduced to half-price. 

According to the report, Sanity Castletown will remain open for the time being.

Meanwhile, the three branches in Cairns, located in Earlville’s Stockland Cairns Shopping Centre, Cairns Central Shopping Centre and Smithfield Shopping Centre, are said to be calling it a day later this month.

Despite the resurgence in vinyl sales (and the spike in price to customers) in recent years, and the unusual lift in CD sales reported in the United States, powered by Adele’s 30 and ABBA’s Voyage, physical music retailers everywhere are feeling the crush.

In its heyday in the 1990s and 2000s, Sanity was Australia’s leading entertainment retailer, boasting 238 stores, and gathering the Sanity, Virgin and HMV brands.

Prior to the arrival of the Spotify, Apple Music and the plethora of subscription music platforms at the turn of the 2010s, Sanity boasted an estimated 23-25% share of the Australian music market — then a CD-dominated space — and was second only to JB Hi-Fi.

Indeed, Sanity had was an early player in the streaming space, with its LoadIt music subscription service, which closed in 2009 just months after launch.

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The business has changed hands several times since its launch by Brazin in 1992, and today, according to the company website, some 69 outlets still operate around the country.

According to ARIA, Australia’s recorded music industry posted 7.3% growth to $542 million in 2020, the most-recent full-year report that’s available, with streaming accounting for most of the gains. CD sales were down sharply. 

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