Once the most popular media used for listening to music, records became all but obsolete to just about everyone and sales plummeted. There were always the die-hards out there that still collected and listened to records and they never let go. Vinyl eventually mostly became replaced by the CD for a multitude of reasons which include but certainly are not limited to portability, audio quality (highly debated), and convenience. Even though there were still die-hards many companies halted record production for decades.
So, are vinyl records coming back? Yes, vinyl records are making a huge comeback. While making up around 17% of total albums sales in 2019 vinyl is coming back and here to stay for a long time. In fact, vinyl in 2019 sold a staggering 25.6% of all physical albums sold while all other forms of album sales are dwindling.
Vinyl sales are up and people are enjoying the process of listening to vinyl again. So what does this all mean for the music industry and music sales? Why are records coming back? This is after all a modern time of streaming music services! We hope to clearly answer these questions and give you some data on album sales that speak volumes.
Vinyl Comeback? Are Vinyl Records Coming Back?
So we are now in the digital age. Everything is so convenient from coffee to books you can have anything you want with as little effort as you would like to put into it. With the press of a button, you can have a digital copy of just about any book ever written. The same is true with music, press “buy now” and all of a sudden you have a copy.
Only with music, we have gone a complete step further and for a small monthly fee, you can stream any song on any album from any artist with just a click of a button. We live in an instant gratification world now. We want it all and we want it now and if we can not have it now we will find a way to have it the quickest way possible.
So why then are records still being made? Why in the world of fast food, social media, news online, and instant streamed music are we recording and producing a seemingly archaic form of music? The answer is simply people are actually buying, collecting, and listening to the wonderful music medium. Vinyl is making a huge comeback
Record Sales Numbers
According to the Nielsen Music’s Year-End 2019 Report total album consumption was up 14% over 2018 mostly pushed by streaming services. However, even though total album sales were down by 18.7% vinyl made a record for itself. At 16.7% of total albums sold in 2019 up from 11.9% in 2018, vinyl accounted for a staggering 25.6% of all physical albums sold. According to Midyear Report from Nielsen Music for 2020 even during a worldwide pandemic record sales are up 45% from this time last year.
Who Is Buying Vinyl Records?
In a time where the cheapest method of purchasing or listening to music is a monthly fee of $10 for unlimited streaming vinyl keep growing and outselling all other physical methods. So who is spending all their cash on vinyl?
Well according to RIAA the age group that buys the most vinyl is between 45-54 at 24% of the Los purchased. The second highest is 35-44 at 21%. The number 1 genre purchase was Classic Rock from the ‘60s-’80s which affirms the age group that purchases the most also.
Call it nostalgia or call it what you want but most records are not actually purchased by millennials and Gen Z. Most are bought by Gen Xers and Boomers which makes the most sense as that is the age group that would have the most disposable income at this time.
Why Are Records Popular Again?
There are several reasons records are popular again but all of them vary based on who is buying them. Some notable reasons we believe are boosting the popularity of records are:
- Collectibility – Once you purchase records a lot of times they go up in value over time. This is especially true when you are talking about limited pressings or boxsets. Some boxsets double in value within a year so you could buy it for $99 and then a year later it is worth $200-$250 sealed in mint condition.
- Audio Quality – The sound of uncompressed analog vinyl records just can not be beaten. This obviously depends on the end-users setup on whether the full clarity is being heard but even on the low end, you hear the music with much more clarity than the digital counterparts.
- Physical Album – While everyone may think that physical music is dead it is not. People still want to own and hold something tangible. They want to have something for the money they spent on it. There is nothing like the experience of owning, caring and listening to your record collection. You get the record itself, the artwork, sometimes even lyrics are included when they are not included in other mediums.
- Nostalgia – For some the pure nostalgia is what makes them hunt down the record they want. For 90’s kids, it was like when Amazon announced its exclusive short contract for Surge soda again. We just had to have it, and sales went through the roof! Surge comes back and to us it was great. Nevermind that Surge is just Mellow Yellow with green coloring and even more sugar.
In the event you were curious I will tell you the reason I started buying records personally. A friend of mine was always into music like I was and one day he brought over a record to show me. Neither one of us had turntables in our setup but we loved the idea of seeing the artwork in larger sizes and being able to read the lyrics. I knew instantly that I had to get a turntable.
After I purchased a turntable and a record or two I was hooked. I became addicted to it instantly. The experience was what it was for me. Listening to the music in full uncompressed form while looking at the album covers and artwork I knew this was it! I had arrived. My favorite part of the experience was feeling forced to hear the whole story as I was too lazy to skip songs. This made me hear albums in a totally different way.
Are Vinyl Records Still Relevant In 2020? Lets Check The Sales
According to the data on the Midyear Report from Nielsen Music for 2020 sales even during a worldwide pandemic vinyl record sales are up 45% from this time last year. This means not even a global pandemic can stop the growth of this category.
We think that not only are vinyl albums still relevant in 2020 but that they are more relevant as people are looking for more meaningful experiences in their everyday lives. Being stuck in your home is not as bad with vinyl in my opinion.
We also think it is here for 2021 and as soon as Neilsen produces its data on sales for the total of 2020 we will gladly post it. However there is no need to worry about it, people are and will be buying vinyl records.
Sales Show Us, Vinyl Records Are Coming Back… For Sure.
We believe it is pretty clear from the sales data that vinyl is making a massive comeback. Every year sales increase over the past year. Every year two forms of music increase their sales and listening and that is vinyl and digital streaming services. We believe vinyl is not only coming back but that it is here to stay for a while.
If you have not experienced vinyl we highly recommend that you go to a friend’s house or somewhere where you can sit and truly experience what vinyl has to offer. Just carve out some time to sit, relax, and really listen to and experience what the music you have listened to your whole life has to offer in its most full format. We think you will understand pretty quickly what this is all about.
Happy listening, and we hope you enjoyed the read.