Home » Vinyl records outsell CDs for first time in 35 years

Vinyl records outsell CDs for first time in 35 years

People love vinyl records for a myriad of reasons. It might be the satisfying hum of the needle as the groove spins beneath it that attracts them, or the enjoyment of handling a physical product and soaking up the album artwork. But for many, of course, it’s pure nostalgia that draws them back to the once-dominant music-playing format.

Vinyl albums have been making a comeback in recent years, and new data shows that for the first time since 1987, they’ve outsold CDs in the U.S. market.

Just over 41 million vinyl albums were bought last year, generating revenue of $1.2 billion, a report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) revealed.

That compares with only 33 million CD sales, worth $483 million, the BBC reported.

The strong showing by vinyl marked the 16th consecutive year of growth for the format as music fans young and old continue to spend their hard-earned cash on LPs alongside — or even instead of — digital downloads and streaming services. And perhaps the occasional CD.

“Revenues from physical music formats continued to grow after their remarkable resurgence in 2021,” the RIAA said in its report. “Total physical revenues of $1.7 billion were up 4% versus the prior year. Revenues from vinyl records grew 17% to $1.2 billion … and accounted for 71% of physical format revenues.”

Responding to the uptick in vinyl sales, RIAA chief Mitch Glazier said the format is “cementing its role as a fixture of the modern music marketplace,” adding that music fans “clearly can’t get enough of the high-quality sound and tangible connection to artists [that] vinyl delivers.”

Glazier also noted how record companies are increasingly responding to the resurgence with the release of special album editions, a strategy that itself is helping to further propel sales.

If you’re new to the format, then check out Digital Trends’ article detailing how to build and preserve a collection of vinyl records. And take a look at this piece, too, explaining how to nail the satisfying ritual of playing vinyl, from extracting the disc from the sleeve to delicately placing the needle on its outer edge.

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