Vinyl has outsold CDs for the first time in 35 years.
The nostalgia for the past continues to grow and music is living proof of it. Not only because of the rhythms that the different genres have adopted and that take us back decades without losing sight of the refreshing sounds of today, but also because of the acquisition of vinyl over any other physical format, even with the existence of streaming platforms. . Recent statistics published by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) show the growth in sales of vinyl, compared to last year and CDs.
The published figures differ from the BPI (Business Process Improvement) market analysis because this entity controls the retail sales revenue of the Official Charts Company and not the units. In general terms, sales in physical formats fell 3.9%, translated into 340 million dollars, a loss that was not so significant with the growth in demand for vinyl. Likewise, sales of this specific format rose by 11%, that is, approximately 180 million dollars, and on the contrary, the CD plummeted by 17.4%, with a loss of up to 150 million dollars. .
The CEO of the ERA, Kim Bayley, assured that “we are approaching a tipping point”, arguing that thanks to the “ingenuity” of streaming platforms and retailers that have recovered the popularity of vinyl, music sales they have increased significantly in this last year with 3% translating to almost 2 billion dollars, their highest level since 2003 and almost double their low point in 2013.
But the great artists of the moment are a key piece in this phenomenon. Performers such as Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Arctic Monkeys and others have broken records in digital sales and have achieved loyalty from the public when it comes to buying their physical music for special editions. “Taylor Swift and the Arctic Monkeys were always going to be huge sellers, but it’s fair to say few expected them to be this big,” Bayley told Music Week. “It’s a reminder that, at least physically, great records can change everything.”
Swift’s tenth studio album, midnights, was the best-selling album on vinyl of 2022 despite having been released in the last months of the year. With more than 89,000 units sold in two months, Harry’s House, by Harry Styles, surpasses him in the different formats with a total of 460,000 copies purchased. However, these large figures were already predicted by the ERA, who since February of last year predicted the rise of vinyl and as a result a large and significant difference was evidenced in which vinyl and CDs have exchanged their positions.
“There is no doubt that revenues have increased, but the challenge in 2022 was more focused on profitability,” added the counselor. “After years in which ensuring income growth was the challenge, with skyrocketing energy costs and inflationary pressure on wages, the problem now [para los minoristas] is to turn revenue into profit.”
Despite the fact that the supply of vinyl has presented setbacks due to its shortage of production plants, it is something that demand will manage to polish over time. Even with special requests from artists like Jack White, who has made an ongoing pitch to record labels and big companies that he suggests investing in their own plants, such as Adele’s revolution in vinyl sales in 2021, Bayley envisions a bright future for this format.
“There’s always something that can be improved, but overall the relationship between retailers and their record providers is pretty healthy right now,” says Bayley. “Retailers may have discovered and encouraged the vinyl renaissance, but record labels have responded well to the challenge and now vinyl is part of the marketing plan for almost every album.”