CD sales plummet in 2018 - is this the beginning of the end?

The RIAA's (Recording Industry Association of America) mid-year music revenue statistics are out. And they don't make great reading for CD fans.

The first half of 2018 saw $245million in CD sales. It seems like a decent enough figure in isolation until you realise the first half or 2017 saw that figure hit $420million. That's a sizeable drop of 41.5%, or $175m.

The large drop in revenue goes hand in hand with the number of CDs sold. In the US the number dropped from 35m units (in the first half of 2017) to just 18.6m this year.

The RIAA's mid-term report wasn't all bad news, though. Revenue across recorded music (streamed and physical) was up 10% to $4.6bn in the first half of 2018.

The shift to streaming continues with revenue from the likes of Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal's paid subscription tiers hitting $2.5b.

CD's been holding its own in recent years, (as has vinyl, of course) but this is the first real sign that the format could be in trouble. What do you think? Are you still buying CDs or have you made the switch to streaming?


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Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.