The releases of the event albums of Adele, Taylor Swift or BTS have allowed sales of a format that we thought was definitely overtaken by streaming to start again on the rise.
It is a time that those under twenty cannot know. The CD King, which sold in the millions and was the most popular way to consume music. Certainly not the most beautiful object. But it was believed to be sustainable. Before being overwhelmed by digital music and streaming. For ever ? Maybe not. The format even seems to be making a comeback. For the first time since 2004, CD sales picked up again in the United States. 40.59 million units were sold there in 2021, a figure up 17% from the previous year, according to figures from Billboard .
The American magazine explains this comeback of compact-disc by the event outputs of several behemoths of the disc. The album 30 Adele first, which has sold 898,000 copies on CD. The various releases of Taylor Swift have also allowed a rebound in sales. His album Evermore released in December 2020, then re-recorded versions of his albums Fearless and Red have sold cumulatively to 713,000 copies.
Finally, the K-pop group BTS has sold 1.03 million copies of its last two albums, released in 2020. In total, these three represent 7.1% of total CD sales in the United States in 2021. The magazine also notes that even catalog stocks – albums at least two years old and regularly reissued – saw their sales increase by 1.4%. In 2004, the last time CD sales ended the year in the green, the top of the charts was held by Usher, Norah Jones and Eminem. Another era.
The health of the physical format
Appeared in the 80s and symbol of the music of the 90s, the CD slowly disappeared from use during the 2000s. The democratization of the Internet and the ease of illegal downloading had plunged an entire industry into a historic crisis, and relegated the format to the rank of artifacts.
The uses and consumption of music are currently undergoing radical change. Streaming reigns supreme on both sides of the Atlantic, but the other formats are working a little more each year on the beds of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. The 2010s saw the return of vinyl. The “pancakes»Are now reaching record sales, surpassing those of the CD since last year. In the United States, a 1991-old record fell the week of December 23. 2.11 million units had passed to end up under the American trees.
In France too, the physical market is on an upward slope. The National Union of Phonographic Publishing (SNEP) indicated last March that “Physical and digital sales generated 658 million euros [en 2020], thus returning to their 2008 level but still only 46% of that of 2002 ”.
If we cannot speak of a renewal of the CD in France, several signals indicate a certain renewed interest on the part of the new generations. Orelsan, the biggest seller of the year in France, sold 96,000 CDs of his album Civilisation from the first week of its release, thanks in particular to 15 special limited editions sold only for pre-order. In its assessment for the year 2021, the SNEP reveals that 21% of 25-34 year olds bought a CD during the previous month, against only 15% in the rest of the world.