Way back in 1988 the compact disc (CD) surpassed the vinyl record in popularity. While vinyl sales may still only account for a small fraction of overall music revenues (roughly 2%), the format has enjoyed steady annual growth since facing extinction in 2005 and 2006. In 2013, the sales of compact discs suffered a 14.5% decline from the previous years totals while sales of vinyl albums rose to 6.1 million units, an increase of 32% from the 4.55 million units sold in 2012. What’s most impressive about this growth is that it’s occurring during one of the most challenging decades the music industry has faced in it’s history. Between 2002 and 2012, total recorded music shipments have dropped by nearly 50%. During that same period, vinyl sales have increased over 250% leading many media and music aficionados to dub this the “vinyl revival”.
Illustration courtesy of Statista
So what’s the reasoning behind the sudden renaissance of LP’s as a music format? Avoiding the broader discussion regarding the sound qualities of vinyl, the uptick in sales numbers may actually have more to do with the rise of digital music than anything else. As the majority of digital music is now housed either on hard drives or in the cloud, those collectors seeking to own a tangible product are turning to LP’s in place of CD’s. Many labels are now shipping vinyl albums with download codes so buyers can access their music using today’s technologies in the form of MP3 downloads while simultaneously benefiting from the aesthetic and textural benefits provided by an LP.
Can this trend continue? As of October, 2014 sales had already surpassed the 2013 totals with a projected 8.9 million LP’s expected to be sold by the end of the year. The vinyl revival seems to be alive and well and we for one, couldn’t be happier.
The LP is back baby, yeah! (insert groovy 1970’s English spy accent here).
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