Sales of Compilations Grow for First Time in a Decade

Compilation CDs used to be big business, but they've been suffering in the digital age. Now they're making a big comeback - but why?

Ultimate Guitar

Sales of compilation albums are growing for the first time in a decade, hinting that streaming services like Spotify and YouTube aren't killing them off after all.

Sales of albums which compile hit songs on one release had been falling since 2004 when they peaked at 39 million albums sold that year. It is assumed that the rise of iTunes and similar digital music stores meant that music fans could easily buy singles of their favorite hits - or simply pirate them from torrent websites.

But now downloads seem to be boosting a revival of the compilation album, with digital sales accounting for 23.5 percent of their sales, according to NME.

A study in Britain shows that sales of compilations grew by 7.2 percent to 20.6 million in 2010 compared to the previous year. The most popular compilations are of hit songs and dance tracks, but the Olympic Opening ceremony soundtrack "Isles of Wonder" gave the format a boost too. If you're thinking the Olympic soundtrack is the only reason that 2012 was a good year for compilations, don't be such a cynic - 2013 sales are looking good too, and are doing even better than 2012 so far.

Would you buy a metal music compilation, or do you prefer checking out online playlists like the weekly UG playlist every Thursday? Let us know in the comments.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Harry Marsh
    I love compilation stuff. I picked up a random Punk compilation cd from a pawn shop a few weeks back and it was amazing. It really helps you discover some new bands (In this case a bunch of 80s'/90's punk bands).
    I think compilations are good if you're getting into a new genre and want to scrape the surface.. Its also good when you're driving and want to hear a variety of your choice.
    I've discovered amazing bands just by picking up a Warped Tour CD for like $7. They always have like 50 songs on 2 discs, it's awesome.
    It makes sense, since most modern mainstream popular musicians just have like one MAJOR overexposed hit (i.e. Call Me Maybe, Somebody that I Used to Know, etc.), and I guess if you put them all together for one cd, no shit that people would want to eat that up.
    STIUTK was a good song though, until it got played out. But I agree, look at the Triple J Hottest 100 CDs in Aus. They sell great but its based on the highest ranked songs (voted by the public) of they year.
    I don't see why people hate the idea of compilation albums. If it weren't for them, I would never have discovered so much of different bands, albums, guitarists, or even rock music as a start! Love them
    the biggest jokes are the one hit wonder compilation albums- i mean what is someone going to do with a vanilla ice or a blind melon greatest hits album
    link no1
    I wouldn't personally buy a compilation CD, most of the time I have either heard of the bands or it's bands I wish I never heard. I don't mind getting a free compilation CD on the front of a magazine though. I always stick those on and give the bands a chance because hey, it was free, I'm not losing anything by trying...well...I've only really got into like 2 bands via compilation's so I've wasted alot of time but still, it was free.