Tech

Sales of music CDs rose last year for the first time since 2004.

In short: As with a lot of retro stuff, it seems like the next thing that’s making a comeback is the CD. The humble CD is experiencing a similar renaissance as vinyl, with music CD sales rising for the first time in nearly two decades.

That annual sales report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that U.S. CD sales increased from 31.6 million in 2020 to 46.6 million in 2021, while revenue increased from $483.2 million to $584.2 million , marking the first annual growth for the format since 2004.

These numbers are still a long way from nearly a billion CD sales and $13.2 billion in revenue during the peak of CD sales in 2000, but any increase is still significant.

Vinyl sales have, of course, been on the rise for over 15 years; For the first time since the 1980s, vinyl album sales generated more revenue than CD sales in the first half of 2020. Last year, 39.7 million vinyl records were sold in the US in 2021, generating $1 billion in revenue.

Combined with booming CD sales, total physical music sales rose last year for the first time since 1996.

Axios reports that one of the factors behind the increase in CD sales has been delays in the release of vinyl albums, which some have mistaken for It’s all Adele’s fault.

But all this does not mean that physical music media will in any way challenge their digital alternative. CDs and vinyl albums accounted for less than 11% of all music sales last year, while paid subscriptions accounted for 57.2% of total revenue ($8.6 billion) and ad-supported sales totaled $1.8 billion.

Image credit: Brett Jordan


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