The Margin: CD sales increased in 2021 for the first time in 17 years (think of Adele, not 12-month savings certificates)
Physical CDs could be making a comeback.
According to a yearly report from music data compiler MRC Data, sales of CDs increased from 40.16 million units in 2020 to 40.59 million in 2021, marking the first time CD sales have increased on a year-over-year basis since 2004.
CDs weren’t the only old-fashioned music format that saw gains in 2021 — vinyl album sales volume increased a massive 50.4%. Also in 2021, vinyl saw its single-largest sales week since 1991, when 2.11 million vinyl albums were sold the week of Dec. 23.
Boosts in physical music sales in a streaming-dominated music ecosystem can likely be attributed to a few big album releases, particularly by female artists. Adele, Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo all moved heavy volumes of physical CDs in 2021 as each artist released albums last year.
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“Audio on-demand streaming reached a new single-year high of 988.1 billion streams in 2021 (up 12.6% from 877.2 billion in 2020),” the MRC report read.
As for streaming, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” was the most streamed song of 2021.