In terms of its adoption rates, the vinyl record is doing better now than it has in a long time. Discogs recently reported that vinyl has had a huge uptick in sales during the pandemic, outselling all other kinds of physical music on their site. That data only reflects activity on Discogs, though. As for the overall market, vinyl is king once again, for the first time since the ’80s.
The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has shared its mid-year report, and while it’s mostly focused on streaming and digital music, there’s data about physical releases, too. It notes that in the first half of 2020, the “United States Estimated Retail Dollar Value” of vinyl LPs and EPs was $231.1 million. That’s well above the $129.9 million that CDs brought in over the same period. As Pitchfork notes, this is the first time vinyl has brought in more money than CDs since the 1980s.
That said, it’s not a total loss for the CD. More CDs were actually sold than vinyl records: 10.6 million units of CDs were shipped versus 8.8 million units of LPs and EPs. Because vinyl records are significantly more expensive than CDs, though, they came out on top financially, accounting for nearly two thirds of physical sales in the first half of this year.
Meanwhile, 2020 has brought a significant drop-off for the CD. In the first half of 2019, 18.6 million units of CDs were shipped, meaning that figure dropped by nearly half this year. Vinyl, meanwhile, saw a modest increase, up from the 8.6 million units moved during the first half of last year.
This news shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the RIAA predicted last year that this would happen.
Read the full report here.