For the First Time in Years, CDs and Vinyl Outsold Digital Music Downloads

March 23, 2018, 5:33 PM UTC

For the first time since 2011, CDs and vinyl have eclipsed digital downloads in terms of recorded music sales.

The reason: Digital download sales have dropped significantly over the past few years because of the growing popularity of streaming services, allowing the sale of physical albums sales to gain an edge.

That doesn’t mean vinyl and CDs are doing well, however. Sales of physical media declined 4% in 2017 from the year before, while digital downloads took a much larger 25% drop, according to the RIAAs recently-released 2017 year-end report.

Meanwhile, paid music subscriptions to services like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal grew 50% in 2017. That increase in streaming was enough to help the music industry report a 16.5% overall increase in sales to $8.7 billion, marking the first time since 1999 that U.S. music revenues grew materially for two years in a row.

That said, the music industry is still a long way from its zenith. While its 2017 revenue numbers matched its sales in 2008, it is still 40% below peak levels.