OPINION: Taylor Swift is bringing back the joy of CDs


Keith Rudd

Earlier this month, Taylor Swift released her seventh album, tacking a sixth No. 1 album to her resume and cementing herself as not only one of this generation’s most prominent popstars, but also one of the music industry’s best businesswomen. 

Yet Swift’s methodology for releasing music is unorthodox compared to many of her peers. With many artists embracing the switch to streaming, Swift still holds out on actual sales. 

It’s not uncommon for an artist’s sales to mostly come from streams on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. For an artist to receive credit for one physical album sale, they would need their song to be streamed 1,500 times.   

With people buying less albums and streaming music more, it’s getting harder for an artist to reach the No. 1 position, something that is mostly influenced by album sales. Artists have commonly turned to bundling an album with merchandise, much like Swift has done with “Lover.” 

When an artist releases an album as part of a bundle, they often slash their bottom line, selling the bundle for much less in an effort to put more album sales on the board. 

Musicians will often release bonus features exclusive to the physical version. Much of the time, there are bonus songs or other merchandise specific to the album. 

Some special copies of “Lover” came with a diary recounting the process of recording the album. With the release of “1989,” Swift included a bundle of photographs that chronicled the time spent making the record. 

While the majority of music is still streamed, vinyl album sales have recently seen a major increase. Since 2006, vinyl records have seen a steady increase in sales. In 2018, 4.3% of all revenue in the music industry came from vinyl album sales. Twenty years ago, that number was less than half a percent. However, in the early 70s, when vinyl records were more popular, record sales accounted for over 60% of revenue in the music industry. All over the country, there are still many thriving record stores, proving the thrill of the hunt is still there should you seek it out. We even have one here in Boone: 641 rpm on King Street.

I clearly remember the excitement my parents had on the Fridays they expected a new CD to come in the mail, or our family going to Best Buy on a Saturday to get a new release. There’s something special about seeking out a CD or a record you’re looking for, making the album more meaningful. 

These artists’ pushes for physical releases of their albums comes as a win-win for both the artist and the fan; the artist gets the credit of an album sale, and the fan gets the reward of holding something tangible their favorite musician recorded. 

As for me, it goes both ways. On the way to class, it’s easier to use Spotify on my phone, but I prefer CDs when I’m in my car. I swear, it’s not just because I don’t have an AUX cord.