Vinyl Album Sales Pass CD’s

It was 1986 when Compact Discs first outsold vinyl record albums.  Now, 34-years later, the sale of vinyl albums has passed the money spent on CD’s.

(Our son, Paul, has collected some classic albums recently.)

The Record Industry Association of America reports that during the first half of 2020, vinyl record sales were about $232-million, and sales of CD’s totaled about $130-million.

The vinyl album was developed in 1948, and soon became the standard of the industry.  Thirty-eight years later, 1986, CD’s passed vinyl in sales, and held that position for thirty-four years, until 2020.

Of course, the new figures just represent physical sales.  Digital downloads of music accounted for $351-million, although it’s declining fast.  The real power of music sales is now subscription streaming, such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music.  Streaming accounts for 85% of all money spent on recorded music ($4.8-billion in first 6 months of 2020), and it’s growing fast.

(Today we just ask for a song or playlist.)

Even though overall physical sales are declining, Vinyl fans are enjoying the resurgence of their beloved records.  So what are they buying?  The biggest sellers are The Beatles, followed by other classic artists like Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd.  Every once in a while, a current artist like Billie Eilish or Taylor Swift will make a splash on vinyl.  Interestingly, Taylor Swift sold her latest album, Folklore, on Vinyl, CD, and Cassette.

(Listening to Crosby & Nash in 1972.)

So, physically owning a music collection is mostly a thing of the past, but at least a segment of music lovers are still “dropping the needle” on records of their favorite artists.

2 Replies to “Vinyl Album Sales Pass CD’s”

  1. I have almost all formats. Some are hard to play due to old belts and friction wheels. I don’t pay for a streaming service, but I will eventually relent. It’s so easy just to ask alexa to play this or that, without the years of looking through cut out bins for that hard to find album or 45. I fear the volatility of someone else’s hard drive and the way businesses pop up and then disappear. Of course, all our money is on some bank’s data banks… I’ll just stop here.

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