Data shows that both vinyl and CD sales will grow in 2021, driven by Adele

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Both CDs and vinyl are selling well in 2021, according to MRC Data’s year-end music data report released this week.

The cultural renaissance of vinyl records is nothing short of skyrocketing. In 2011, vinyl records accounted for only 1.7% of physical music sales, with CDs making up the rest. In just 10 years, that number rose to 50.4 percent, according to MRC — meaning vinyl has now overtaken CD as the best-selling physical format since 1991.

“In recent years, I’ve noticed that customers prefer to actually own the music, rather than stream it, usually in its best form (vinyl records),” Tobago Benito, owner of record store DBS Sounds, said in MRC’s data roundup.

He attributes this to the presence of record players in movies and TV, but also to the joy people get when they dig for some kind of vinyl in record stores, which may “bring back fond memories,” he said.

Vinyl sales have also grown significantly from a year ago in 2020, when vinyl accounted for 27.5 million physical music sales, or about 40% of total sales. It now only accounts for about half of total sales, which is significant.

Part of this year’s success may have been the release of “30,” Adele’s first album in six years. On vinyl, “30” sold 108,000 copies in its first week, the second-largest vinyl sales week since MRC Data began tracking such sales in 1991. The album was the best-selling vinyl record of the year, followed by re-releases of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” and Taylor Swift’s “Red.”
Part of that has to do with the success of Record Store Day, a popular spring sale, MRC reports. MRC said sales of new and re-release records have grown at record store days since 2011, thanks to the support of popular artists.

“From Metallica giving credit to RSD (and record/record stores) with an RSD release a decade ago, to Taylor Swift putting her most recent vinyl release first, it’s not an afterthought, but an essential part of the release part,” Carmelo, director of brand engagement at Newbury Comics, said in a statement.

But one surprise last year was a 1.1% increase in U.S. CD sales — from 40.2 million in 2020 to 40.6 million in 2021. CD sales have been declining steadily over the years, so the fact that they didn’t drop aggressively last year is probably significant.

One of the reasons for the surge in sales was the release of Adele’s “30” and Taylor Swift’s “Red (Taylor Edition).”

The Target CD version “30,” which includes three additional tracks, helped the CD version of the album sell 378,000 copies in its first week, the biggest CD sales week of 2021, MRC said. Just a week ago, Red (Taylor Edition) sold 146,700 copies.

It’s unclear if this paltry increase means CDs are on the way, but it could herald a slight shift for those still holding on to the medium.


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