Vinyl Sales Surge As CD Sales Fall; Set To Outsell For The First Time Since 1986

Trends come and go, yet it’s rare to see a new ‘fad’ emerge and actually – stick around. It becomes more than just a trend that people are latching onto as the latest mainstream interest. Instead, it blooms into a regular part of our everyday lives; strange to consider what came before it, and how exactly we got here. In recent years, the play of nostalgia and ‘retro’ trends have emerged in the film and television world, the fashion industry and now, in a seemingly permanent manner; the music world, as the rise of vinyls is taking over the way we consume physical media.

 With the rise of streaming services making music extremely accessible for all at affordable prices, it was a genuine anxiety that we’d lose out on the joys of collecting beautifully crafted pieces artworks in the form of physical media.

In a brand new report by The Recording Industry Association of America, it’s been stated that for the first time since 1986, vinyl records are set to outsell CDs; an unexpected medium of the 20th century growing exponentially while another, that has been a staple of 2000s, is falling into redundancy. The 2019 Mid-Year report by the RIAA gives us an in-depth overview of how the music industry is currently functioning financially, which is of course a representation of the current demands in our society.

While digital downloads are still leading the way in terms of revenue; with streaming services accounting for 80% of the music industry’s revenue (growing 26% to $4.3 billion in the first half of the year) and paid services accounting for 62% of industry revenues – we’ve also seen a surprising increase when it comes to physical media. The RIAA report, despite physical products only make up a very small percentage of industry revenue at 9%, it has been confirmed that vinyls are climbing in sales – and set to actually outsell CDs, as previously stated – since the 80’s.

In the first half of 2019, vinyl sales earned a staggering $224.1 million from only 8.2 million units – as opposed to the $247.9 million earned from 18.6 million units. These figures are extremely similar to one another, despite more CD units being sold, the revenue generated by vinyl sales is extremely close to that of CD sales. 

While physical media may make up only a small portion of revenue as streaming services have dominated the music world, it’s promising to see a rise in an artform that continues to remind us how unique collecting vinyl records is, complete with beautiful, tangible artworks and special editions of our favourite albums that seem so personal in their nature.

Read the RIAA 2019 Mid-Year report here.

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