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Music industry report: CD sales rose for the 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 rise over the 31.6 million shipped the year before. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
According to data from a new report, more than 46 million compact discs were shipped in the United States in 2021 -- a significant rise over the 31.6 million shipped the year before. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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

Revenues from CDs grew 21% to $584 million in 2021 after many stores were closed the prior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, representing the first year-over-year increase since 2004, the Recording Industry Association of America said in the report.

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

Last year also represented the first time since 1996, "both CDs and vinyl records" increased revenue "in the same year," according to the RIAA report.

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Back in the 1990s, CDs dominated music industry revenues, peaking at $13.2 billion in sales in 2000 when almost a billion CD albums were shipped in the United States.

Currently, streaming has dominated recorded music revenues, accounting for 83% of revenues compared with physical media, such as vinyl records and CDs, accounting for 11%, a graphic in the report showed. These revenues included paid music subscriptions through YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, and for the first time, included U.S. TikTok music revenues.

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The streaming revenues increased 24% in 2021 to $12.4 billion, according to the report.

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

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

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

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Overall, U.S. recorded music revenues rose 23% to $15 billion in 2021 at estimated retail value, with growth across all formats except digital downloads, analysts said. Digital downloads revenues, which now account for 4% of revenues, compared with 43% at peak in 2012, declined nearly 12% in 2021 to about $587 million from about $665 million in 2020.

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