While streaming has become the music industry’s cash cow in recent years, CDs are not yet extinct. The annual sales report of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) states that income from CDs would increase by 21% to $584 million in 2021. This was the first yearly gain in CD sales in the United States since 2004. The RIAA reports that several record outlets reopened, and performers resumed selling music at live performances after COVID-19’s 2020 suspension.
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Vinyl sales continue to climb, as they have over the previous 15 years. Revenue increased by a stunning 61% to $1 billion in 2021. It is the first time since 1986 that vinyl sales have reached that level. Physical music sales in the United States reached $1.66 billion last year, including various forms.
According to the RIAA, digital downloads were the only major recorded music medium to witness a revenue loss last year. Sales fell 13% to $587 million — only $3 million more than the CD revenue forecast for 2021.
“No industry has embraced rapidly changing technologies and instant innovations more quickly in history than music throughout the last decade. It has transformed streaming from ancient novelty to modernly ubiquitous in no time and now advancing to a new generation of social applications, share experiences, and blockchain or NFT opportunities,” Mitch Glazier, chairman of the RIAA, wrote in an article published by Music Business Worldwide.
Recently, streaming corporations have been in the news for the proportion of royalties they pay to artists, while Spotify was also accused of distributing false information about covid vaccinations. Additionally, the sound quality has come under fire from some groups who are not afraid to speak their minds. Perhaps this is why Kanye West went the extra mile and launched his new album on its own specialized hardware.
The combination means that physical media as a whole had its first increase in sales since 1996, but streaming remains king. Paid subscriptions accounted for 57.2 percent of revenue, or $8.6 billion, as evaluated by the RIAA in 2021, while ad-supported streaming generated $1.8 billion. Meanwhile, gross sales of CDs and vinyl albums combined accounted for less than 11% of revenue.
People seem to be content and anticipate that this renaissance in CD sales will continue when the globe emerges from two years of epidemic lockdown. While CDs are convenient for listening to music at home, there are no reports that someone lugging about a clunky portable CD player in years. And although vinyl has a distinct sound compared to digital music, CDs contain digital music that is largely comparable to what is available via lossless music suppliers such as Apple and Amazon.
However, CDs continue to provide something that entirely digital suppliers can only dream of a delightful physical product complete with album artwork and a tangible feeling of ownership. Additionally, there is a feeling that a greater portion of your money is going to an artist rather than the cents per play offered by streaming services.
Slava is a man of mystery and no-one seems to know exactly where he is at any point in time. When he isn't enjoying writing about all things audio and technical he can be found researching his next project of interest. The man never rests.
This post was last updated on 2023-09-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.