Vinyl Surpasses CD Sales for the First Time Since 1987

Vinyl Surpasses CD Sales for the First Time Since 1987

Photo: RAWPIXEL/Depositphotos

Media changes fast. From wax cylinders to disc records to cassette tapes and CDs to MP3 files and streaming—the ways we enjoy music have changed a lot since the late 19th century. Since the 1950s, record discs made of polyvinyl chloride have preserved the melodies of everyone from Elvis and Little Richard to The Beatles and Donna Summer. However, in the late 1980s, cassette tapes and CDs chipped away at the record’s primacy as the most sold musical format. While streaming is the music format of choice of today, vinyl has had a sort of resurgence. In fact, sales of vinyl records have surpassed that of CDs for the first time since 1987. This rise in vinyl’s popularity is due in part to young consumers’ embrace of the nostalgic medium.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) annual revenue report, vinyl records sold 41 million units last year compared to 33 million CDs. Vinyl has been on the rebound for about 15 years; but in the last few, sales have skyrocketed. Vinyl sales increased by 17% since 2021, whereas CD sales dropped 18%. Similar trends have been recorded in recent years in the UK, Germany, Japan, and other countries. While Dad's old vinyl is still just as cool, modern albums are selling vinyl as well. Taylor Swift's records sold 1.7 million copies last year, while Harry Styles reached 719,000.

The RIAA found that streaming totaled 84% of total music revenue in 2022—a shocking high of $13.3 billion. Download sales, however, are falling out of popularity, dropping to only $495 million in sales. Vinyl's resurgence in popularity cannot be attributed to convenience like the rise of streaming. Instead, it speaks to a preference among many music lovers for the unique sound captured by records. Gen Z especially seems to be enjoying the vintage nostalgia, treating albums as art and experience.

Feel like experiencing the medium for yourself? You can find lots of vintage records at music shops, bookstores, and even thrift stores. But don't throw out those CDs just yet, you never know when another vintage medium may come back in style.

Vinyl records have been having a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to Gen Z’s interest in vintage media.

Vinyl Surpasses CD Sales for the First Time Since 1987

Photo: KORNIENKOALEX/Depositphotos

The recent boom in vintage-style vinyl record sales has coincided with the increasing obsoleteness of the CD.

Streaming, however, still predominates as the medium of most music listening.

h/t: [The Verge]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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