Music Industry Report: CD Sales Rise for First Time in Two Decades

According to data from a new report, more than 46 million compact discs were shipped in the United States in 2021, a significant increase from the 31.6 million shipped the previous year. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License picture

March 14 (UPI) — CD sales rose for the first time in two decades last year, according to a new industry report.

CD revenue rose 21% to $584 million in 2021 after many stores closed the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first year-on-year increase in the other since 2004, the Recording Industry Association of America said in the report.

Data from the report showed that 46.6 million CDs were shipped in the United States in 2021, compared to 31.6 million CDs in 2020.

Last year also marked the first time since 1996 that “both CDs and vinyl records” grew in revenue “in the same year”, according to the RIAA report.

In the 1990s, CDs dominated music industry revenue, peaking at $13.2 billion in sales in 2000, when nearly one billion CD albums were shipped in the United States.

Currently, streaming dominates recorded music revenue, accounting for 83% of revenue compared to physical media, such as vinyl records and CDs, accounting for 11%, according to a chart in the report. These revenues included paid music subscriptions through YouTube, Spotify, Facebook and, for the first time, TikTok music revenues in the United States.

Streaming revenue grew 24% in 2021 to $12.4 billion, according to the report.

Still, vinyl records have led a resurgence in physical media, accounting for 63% of the $1.65 billion in revenue from physical formats over the past year and 7% of total music revenue.

In 2021, vinyl sales revenue growth continued for a 15th straight year, analysts said.

Vinyl record sales hit $1 billion in 2021, and the last time their sales topped $1 billion was in 1986, analysts noted in the report.

Overall, US recorded music revenue grew 23% to $15 billion in 2021 at estimated retail value, with growth in all formats except digital downloads, analysts said. Revenue from digital downloads, which now accounts for 4% of revenue, down from 43% at the 2012 peak, fell nearly 12% in 2021 to around $587 million, down from around $665 million in 2020.

Alice P. Darby