Record collectors rejoice: Vinyl record sales went from nearly obsolete to the most profitable form of physical music. Records are projected to sell more units than CDs in 2019 for the first time since 1986, and sales aren’t slowing.
In 2018, the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) mid-year analysis concluded CDs were declining three times faster than vinyl sales were increasing, according to a report from Rolling Stone. The RIAA reported vinyl sales alone accounted for more than one-third of the total revenue from physical albums.
The RIAA’s mid-year report for 2019 was released Thursday, and vinyl sales have increased even more from last year. So far this year, vinyl sales have grossed $224.1 million. While CD sales are still in the lead with $247.9 million, vinyl sales are projected to rise to the top. The first half of 2019 saw a 12.9% growth of vinyl sales, while CD sales stayed stagnant. If the trend continues, vinyl LPs will be the most purchased form of physical albums.
Vinyl records seem to be the most popular amongst classic rock fans. In 2018 alone, The Beatles sold over 300,000 vinyl records while Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Queen all sold over 100,000.
Vinyl is becoming a popular way of listening to music, but streaming platforms still remain dominant. Paid subscriptions to streaming platforms accounted for over 62% of total industry revenues. Purchasing vinyl records and streaming music on the internet seem like vastly different ways of listening to music, but it looks like they can still exist in harmony.