Are we too quick to always move on to the next thing? The fast elimination of devices to play CD’s…removed from vehicles and computers…seemed like a plot to get everyone to subscribe to streaming services. It’s working, because 83% of what we pay for music goes to streaming services. But a surprising thing happened in 2021. Both vinyl records and CD’s saw increased sales.
Fans still have a desire to physically own albums by their favorite artists. Box sets also include books, photos, lyrics, and other items & information that add to the music listening experience. The increase for vinyl records is a 15-year trend. About two years ago, the amount of money spent on vinyl passed CD’s and is now 63% of physical sales. Maybe CD’s will also be sticking around, because sales increased 21% in 2021. That’s the first increase for CD’s since a 2004 peak.
Here’s the breakdown of all music sales as shown in Variety:
Streaming dominates, and it should. It gives instant access to about 70-million songs for around $10 a month. Two of the streaming services, Apple Music and Amazon Music, now have high quality audio, sometimes called “lossless”. That makes them similar to the quality of CD’s. The purchase of digital downloads used to dominate music buying, but it’s fallen drastically to 4%. The 2% labeled “Synch” is for other music uses, such as licensing for movies and television.
Architectural Digest even published an article about the popularity of “listening rooms” being added to homes. Here are a couple of shots they included.
Wow, that brings back the 70’s & 80’s! At one time I had over 2,000 records and CD’s, but sold most of my collection, after putting the songs in my computer. That was a few years before our big move to Oregon in 2008. The second-biggest drawback of a large physical collection is storing it. The biggest drawback is moving it.
Here’s a photo not found in Architectural Digest. I’m down to a small cabinet in a corner of my office. It has a couple rows of CD’s, some DVD’s, and the bottom has quite a few box sets. Although vinyl & CD’s are still selling, they’re more like keepsakes limited to fan’s favorite artists or music. Today, few people would try to use physical media to provide their complete listening experience.
Since a CD/DVD player wasn’t included with my Mac, I had to buy an Apple CD/DVD player/burner ($79). Then I could still dub CD’s into my iTunes playlists of about the 20,000 songs I’ve purchased over many decades. That’s what I listen to most, and it doesn’t take up any room. To play artists whose songs I don’t have, I subscribe to Amazon Music.
CD’s are still a great way to share music, and of course they allow people to load the songs into their own computers, Recently, I made a couple of CD’s for one of my sisters after she selected her favorite songs by The Beatles. She told me her son indicated he thought it was “quaint” to still be using CD’s…but now we know she’s part of a trend!
If only we weren’t running out of ways to play them.
Extra Point: Using a rough estimate of $25 for each vinyl record, and $10 for each CD, and dividing those into the money spent on each format…more CD’s were bought than records in 2021.
Update: (April, 2022) Music industry tracker MRC Data reports that older music is surging on streaming services, while new releases are being streamed less. They report that in 2021, streaming of older catalog recordings increased by over 29%, and streaming of new releases was down by more than 19%. Maybe the older music is just better, or it’s harder for new music to break through.
Extra: A reader sent in a couple photos of his amazing “studio” that I think deserved to be in the Architectural Digest article.