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  • The CD recovery begins

    01.02.2024 Mervi Vuorela
    Much has been said in recent years about the increasing popularity of vinyl records. Now it seems that the CD is also making a slow comeback.

    In the UK, one of the major markets for popular music, sales of CDs turned up last year for the first time in almost two decades. In the US, the same change was already recorded in 2021.

    Finland has generally followed the trends of the US and the UK with a few years’ lag. It is therefore likely that the almost-declared-dead CD will soon become more popular here too.

    There are already signs of this in the air. Jyri Lipponen, Managing Director of Levykauppa Äx, which dominates the physical recordings market in Finland, confirms that sales of CDs at Äx grew by roughly 7% last year. 338 999 CDs and 237 304 vinyls were sold.

    The increased popularity of CDs can be explained by several factors. The main one is price: while a new vinyl record now costs almost €35 or more, a CD at half the price seems attractive. Indeed, CD sales have increased, especially among teenagers. Many of them have found the physical record a way to stand out or showcase their musical tastes.

    In addition to young people, the CD appeals as a “nostalgia product” to the millennial generation, who grew up buying CDs of Nirvana, Type O Negative and Oasis on their shelves. The format also appeals to collectors, as many special editions, box sets and other rarer material are still being released on CD.

    In some genres, the CD has never really gone away: in the heavy and metal circles, the CD has been the number one format throughout the 2000s.

    The popularity of the CD is also driven by sound quality. The format is technically of very high quality, although vinyl enthusiasts often criticise it for its lack of ‘warmth’ – a quality that most people can’t even hear.

    Then there is the influence of music megastars like Taylor Swift, who release physical albums. Their record sales are so high that they also show up as a spike in CD sales.

    Despite their increased popularity, CD sales are still low compared to streaming, which accounts for around 90% of the total market in Finland.

    However, the number of CDs sold is expected to stabilise or possibly even increase, as increased demand has led more and more retailers to stock up on CDs.