Last year CD sales grew for the first time in 20 years. According to RIAA data, CD sales jumped to 46.6 million in 2021 – a 47.7% increase from 2020. But the number of CDs sold is likely much larger.
It seems pretty clear to me that, with most self-released CDs being sold at concerts, there is no sales tracking for the vast majority of discs sold,” said Tony van Veen of leading CD manufacturer Discmakers.
The theories behind the increase are many: some say it was driven by vinyl shortages while others tout the format’s premium sound quality. Another major factor is cost.
At Discmakers a limited run of 100 CDs in full-color jackets can cost around $2 each. That same run of 100 vinyl records costs $20 – $25 each. While per-unit costs drop with larger orders of both formats, the savings that CDs offer the artists and labels making them as well as the fan buying them are substantial.