Digital downloads outpaced by CDs and vinyl for first time in 7 years

Digital Downloads - Vinyl Sales - People buying records

Mobile commerce made many believe purchasing physical copies of media was on its way out.

Digital downloads have been on the rise for years. Many have believed that CDs were going the way of vinyl, and vinyl had gone the way of the dinosaur. That said, for the first time since 2011, CDs and vinyl sales are now outpacing media downloading.

When iPods and other MP3 players first became popular, the need to buy and store CDs fell.

Once those portable media players hit the market, digital downloads and music streaming service popularity exploded. With the ability to purchase only the desired songs (instead of buying the whole album), consumers loved digital. Moreover, downloading meant that consumers didn’t need to fill their homes with shelves upon shelves of media storage.

That said, despite the popularity of mobile commerce, the trend appears to be shifting once more. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) data shows CDs and vinyl are once again outselling digital media. The RIAA recently released its 2017 year end revenue report. Digital download revenue fell by 25 percent to $1.3 billion last year, it said. On the other hand, physical media products dropped by only 4 percent to $1.5 billion.

The overall music industry – including physical products and digital downloads – grew for a second year.

The music industry has reached its healthiest point since 2008, said the report. Last year, the industry saw $8.7 billion in total revenue.

Almost all the music industry growth had to do with paid music subscription services. Paid Spotify and Apple Music memberships saw the most significant growth. Clearly, m-commerce continues to play an important role in the music industry. It’s just that the trend has shifted once again.

Paid music subscription services saw a revenue increase in over 50 percent last year. Their revenue total rose to $5.7 billion in 2017. It comprised almost two thirds of the music industry’s total income. On the other hand, physical media such as CDs and vinyl accounted for 17 percent of the industry’s revenue. Digital downloads made up only 15 percent of the music industry’s earnings, said the report.

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