The releases of event albums by Adele, Taylor Swift or BTS have enabled sales of a format that we thought was definitively overtaken by streaming to start rising again.
It is a time that those under twenty cannot know. That of the king CD, which sold millions and was the most widespread way of consuming music. Certainly not the most beautiful object. But we thought it would last. Before being overwhelmed by digitized music and streaming. For ever ? Maybe not. The format even seems to be making a comeback. For the first time since 2004, CD sales are on the rise 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 the compact disc by the event outputs of several behemoths of the disc. The Scrapbook 30 by Adele first, which 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 the re-recorded versions of his albums Fearless and Red sold a total of 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 funds – 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 were occupied by Usher, Norah Jones and Eminem. Another era.
The regained health of the physical format
Appeared in the 80s and symbol of the music of the 90s, the CD had 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 changing. On both sides of the Atlantic, streaming reigns supreme, but the other formats are doing a little more each year on the platforms of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. The 2010s were the years of the return of vinyl. The “patties» are now reaching sales records, surpassing those of the CD since last year. In the United States, a record from 1991 fell the week of December 23. 2.11 million units had passed to end up under the American fir trees.
In France too, the physical market is on the upward slope. The Syndicat National de l’Édition Phonographique (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 revival 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 Civilization from the first week of its release, thanks in particular to 15 special limited editions sold only in pre-order. In its report for the year 2021, the SNEP reveals that 21% of 25-34 year olds bought a CD during the previous month, compared to only 15% in the rest of the world.