Vinyl LPs Sales Increase Near 40%
Yes, it’s true. According to the UK’s Digital Journal online magazine and writer Katherine Ogilvie, “Vinyl continues to be back in vogue, topping new sales records and furthering its slow domination of the music industry market”. You can read the article yourself by clicking here. I couldn’t help but read the article…maybe, just maybe I should seriously consider having a few of my best recordings mastered for vinyl LP and press a couple of thousand. My friend and guitarist extraordinaire Laurence Juber did it with his latest release. I have a numbered copy of the disc. Unfortunately, I don’t have a functioning turntable and doubt that I will be investing in one any time soon.
How is it possible that an author can spin up an article on the “slow domination” of the music industry by vinyl LPs without checking the real numbers? Percentages can’t be trusted. A few years back, I could have claimed that the sales of AIX Records was up 500% and everyone would have been very impressed…until I revealed that my records sales at the time were rather anemic with sales of a few dozen records. Selling triple digits of one of my tracks would have allowed me to brag about “new sales records”…at least in terms of percentages.
Vinyl LPs are a niche market. And that niche has seen six straight years of growth…substantial growth. The percentage increases have been as high as 33-40% over the previous year. The much touted Jack White solo LP
Besides Jack White, vinyl lovers can purchase new releases by Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend, and Queens of the Stone Age.
But here’s the reality. When you look at the percentage of overall domestic album sales generated by vinyl…the number isn’t very impressive. And it certainly doesn’t warrant having effusive articles all over the web claiming that vinyl is going to “dominate” the music industry. The percentage of vinyl is less than 2% of the albums sold this year according to Nielson SoundScan. That number is actually less than the number of album sales of high-resolution audio downloads! But we don’t talk about HRA being poised in similar terms to vinyl.
Maybe the dollar numbers work out better. The number of vinyl LPs sold in the U.S. is a mere 3.7 percent of CDs sold this year domestically.
Vinyl is a niche…and will remain a niche forever. I have very fond memories of vinyl and recognize its benefits: larger artwork, posters, and two sides. Unfortunately, reproducing better fidelity than digital (even compact discs) isn’t among them.
Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass
15 thoughts on “Vinyl LPs Sales Increase Near 40%”
Do you have numbers for high-resolution audio sales? If so, please share the citation. I’ve been looking all over for those.
Andrea…unfortunately the information I have is not something that I can publish. All I can say is that the dollar amounts for high-resolution digital downloads is larger than the sales of new vinyl LPs. Sorry.
I, too, have a copy of “Under An Indigo Sky” but, unlike you, I also have an analog system. Perhaps it is just me trying to rationallize my “investmet” in vinyl and related hardware, but I find Laurence Juber’s offering warmer and very emotional. I have not done any A/B comps so I cannot really comment on how it sounds digitally.
I think the report on vinyl sales is probably an attempt to put as positive a spin on the vinyl industry as possible. The prices currently being charged, especiallly 180 or 200 gram pressings is going to put a very low ceiling on future sales.
I really enjoy your recent Axpona offerings, both Jax and Chicago, and I appreciate what you are trying to do to help establish some kind of standarization to HD audio, but I do not see subscribing to downloads exclusively.
Thanks for all you do.
Actually, I would love to hear LJ’s album on vinyl LP.
Hi Mark, I posted some time ago that our bigest music retail outlet here in Australia has a rapidly expanding vinyl section. So much so, that the Bluray section has been punted out of the way in order to make more room. The other staggering aspect to this is the cost of the discs. $50 is not uncommon for a single disc and “Beatles” albums recorded fifty years ago are $45.
We are not being concidered where quality is concerned, merely taken as an easy touch.
Whilst on that subject, I visited the “2L” website with the view of buying some of their fabulous recordings. I was amazed to see that the Bluray downloads were exactly the same price as the physical discs. Are they serious?
It’s expensive to make a recording…not matter which way you cut it. I don’t have a problem with downloads costing about the same as discs. The cost of replication and printing is not that much by comparison to creating the files in the first place.
Really? I find this staggering. I would have thought the cost of making cds and other optical discs would be quite significant and another reason for the industry to push downloads.
If you were to master one of your tracks for vinyl what, out of interest, would be the adjustments necessary apart from the Riaa curve that is. You’ve mentioned in the past the process by which the bass would have to be summed . How is this achieved and below what frequency is this normally done.
Bob the cost of manufacturing a physical optical disc is less than $.20 for CDs to $.40 for Blu-ray discs. That’s not the reason for high costs…of course, it does cost much more than downloads but it’s not crazy more.
The scary thing about some of the “new” people who buy vinyl is that they like the pops, clicks and audible distortion. To those, it’s Hula Hoop!
Mark, your perception is correct, and your analysis. While turntable sales have jumped way up and there is a mini-trend for release on vinyl, the actual percentage numbers are not truly significant, EXCEPT that they do o indicate a willing market for better sound. At the recent Newport T.H.E. show I attended, every demonstration I saw or heard was either vinyl or hi-res; they can go together just fine in a system today, that’s part of the beauty of our times. The other point worth making you inferred but did not make: While CD % are down, more CDs were sold in the world last year than in any previous. Last bit, of the 6 major music consuming countries, the U.S. is the only one wherein downloads exceed the sales of physical media. In Japan, it’s 6 to 1 the other way!
You’re right CDs are still a very big deal in the world at large…and will remain so for a long time.
From my stance both as a music junkie and high-end vendor, CD has been unfairly maligned. Despite the visual disparity evidenced on your ‘audio space’ chart, when the full signal capacity within 16/44 is used, a very satisfying listen can be had. Most folks simply have not progressed in player quality. After their early one broke, they probably started using the dvd player which had shown up by then. That alone effectively killed much interest in listening to CD. Then, just as CD matured around 2000, The I-Pod came along and stole the headlines which could have read ” CD grows up.” Instead it said ,”Music goes down.” CD could be re-promoted as ‘the Mother of hi-res.’ Bottom line, all physical media, especially sizeable collections in folks’ homes should be recognized as an investment that should be kept up. In the last number of years, I have begun many a system upgrade with a better source when it would have been easier to sell new loudspeakers.CD IS NOT DEAD, thank you Mark.
I agree and have stated more than once that CD-Audio is very hard to best when it comes to audio fidelity. It lacks surround but that’s another topic. As you know, I would never refer to it as the “Mother of Hi-Res” because it firmly establishes the “standard-resolution” category. If we could get uncompressed Redbook audio fidelity across the board, it would be a great thing.
I gave my turntable and vinyl albums away to my sister in 1986 and never looked back. Now I wish I kept them and sold them for great profit to nostalgists and hipsters.
There’s lies, damn lies, and there’s statistics. (and this 40% increase is album sales is one of them :))
Thanks Sean for the comment. I actually still have a chosen few LPs but no turntable.