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The Rise and Fall of the Compact Disc



This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Felix Richter


Amid all the talk of music streaming and the renaissance of vinyl, the continued plummeting of CD sales hasn’t been getting a lot of attention in recent years. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), CD album sales in the United States have dropped by 97 percent since peaking in 2000 and are currently at their lowest level since 1986, when Whitney Houston's self-titled debut album topped the Billboard charts.


Having been hit by the rise of filesharing and MP3 players in the early 2000s, CD sales nearly halved between 2000 and 2007, which is when smartphones and the first music streaming services emerged to put the final nail in the compact disc’s little round coffin.


In 2020, 31.6 million CD albums were sold in the United States, accounting for less than 4 percent if music industry revenues.


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