Vinyl LP Sales, 1993-2013

This is just a tiny percentage of overall recording sales, for now. Here’s the latest 2013 sales projection for the US, based on half-year sales stats just compiled by Nielsen Soundscan.

 

 

vinyl2014

56 Responses

  1. PiratesWinLOL
    PiratesWinLOL

    This is a wierd fad and I assume it will die out within a couple of years tops. The format is impractical and the sound quality isn’t good either. Though I suppose the young generation, has always liked some fun with nostalgic things like that. Perhaps the next thing will be cassettes or CDs. In a few years it might even be MP3s on an old Ipod…

    Reply
    • GGG
      GGG

      It may die down a bit but I think it’s here to stay for a while, as a niche, collectors thing. A lot of people do still like buying an actual product as opposed to bits of data. Nobody thinks it’s actually going to become any remotely dominant format again.
      And the sound on vinyl can be fantastic if you have decent/good equipment.

      Reply
      • FarePlay
        FarePlay

        Long live the king, the king is dead……
        It looks like vinyl is making a return, that’s good. I was just in Austin, Friday on my way to LA by car. Went to Waterloo Records to see my friend, David Lowery’s band CVB play, the place was crowded, the RECORD store was happening. There are 14 record stores in Austin.
        I want to live in a world of choices. I’ve been carrying portable music around for 40 years and yes I preferred the sound of my Walkman to my iPod. Guess I could break down and buy a DAT machine.
        So to you digerati. Yes, digital is where the future growth is, but don’t deprive me of what I want, just to make a point.
        And if you tech guys are so smart, why don’t you figure out how we can support artists instead of treating them like second class citizens. You can do better than endless giging and t-shirt sales.
        Instead of pissing on vinyl, you should be grateful that there are people in the world who value the stuff and contribute to the eco-system that keeps music and musicians alive.

        Reply
      • Andrew
        Andrew

        Just on the point about sound from vinyl. If you have a good set up as you mentioned it will definitely give you the best sound qaulity. I have heard from many reliable sources over the years that that is the case. I have most of my music on itunes for convenience but in terms of the visual aspect vinyl is the best again in my opinion. Seeing some of those Beatles records on vinyl in music stores almost gets me everytime. If I had more money I would definitely collect vinyl. A

        Reply
    • jw
      jw

      You obviously don’t get it.
      You’re wrong about sound quality, but that’s beside the point. The point is that it’s impractical. The point is that it’s a different way of experiencing music. It’s intentional. And it’s a reaction to intangible music files… comparing it to mp3s on an old iPod completely misses the point… it’s too practical.
      People have been saying it’s a trend that should be ignored & that’s going to die since the uptick began. But artists are behind it, & they’re making good money selling vinyl, & pressing more every year. As long as technology keeps pushing us towards more seemless, passive, intangible music experiences, there will always be a counterpart to that, which is the analog experience. And I think that’s totally healthy.
      On record store day the line at Criminal Records was around the block, just for vinyl. Some folks showed up at 4am to wait for doors to open. People were checking out with hundreds of dollars worth of vinyl records. And I thought to myself, “I might know more about music, I’m not sure that I love music as much as some of these people,” and that’s what the vinyl experience is about, & why it’s not going to peter out in a couple of years.

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        Yeah I feel it’s kinda like how people perfer “hand crafted items”, there is some kind of feeling you get from that you can’t get from a robot that pumps out a million the exact same item, even if it does so perfectly.

        Reply
        • Yves Villeneuve
          Yves Villeneuve

          You do realize vinyl records are not hand crafted? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
          A minor resurgence in vinyl is probably due to that retro and antique feeling.

          Reply
          • Mixc
            Mixc

            What they mean I am sure is that vinyl like hand crafeted art has a hands on personal feel that apeals to the hear music is personal and just try cheerishing an mp3 in your hands… You’ll love mp3s because of the high tech gadget they reside on.

          • jw
            jw

            If we just ignore him, hopefully he’ll go away.
            He only comments to hear himself talk.

      • Visitor
        Visitor

        “You’re wrong about sound quality, but that’s beside the point. The point is that it’s impractical. The point is that it’s a different way of experiencing music. It’s intentional. And it’s a reaction to intangible music files… comparing it to mp3s on an old iPod completely misses the point… it’s too practical.”
        Apparently it is so impractical, that they don’t actually want to listen to these expensive vinyl records: http://qz.com/103785/hipsters-are-buying-vinyl-records-but-they-arent-listening-to-them/
        “People have been saying it’s a trend that should be ignored & that’s going to die since the uptick began. But artists are behind it, & they’re making good money selling vinyl, & pressing more every year. As long as technology keeps pushing us towards more seemless, passive, intangible music experiences, there will always be a counterpart to that, which is the analog experience. And I think that’s totally healthy.”
        I think it is reasonable to apply Occram’s razor to this, and conclude that we are again dealing with a bunch of teenage hipsters who want to be special and interesting. When too many buy these vinyl records you got inflation and it no longer makes you special and interesting. You then end up with a lot of heavy, dusty, scratched and annoying vinyl, which you have spend too much money on. That will be the end of it, and they’ll search for something else which makes them interesting and special. That is what I think of it, but then again I might be wrong. Perhaps a lot of people are really that nostalgic and really enjoy impractical things like that even in the long run. Personally I just don’t understand it.
        “On record store day the line at Criminal Records was around the block, just for vinyl. Some folks showed up at 4am to wait for doors to open. People were checking out with hundreds of dollars worth of vinyl records. And I thought to myself, “I might know more about music, I’m not sure that I love music as much as some of these people,” and that’s what the vinyl experience is about, & why it’s not going to peter out in a couple of years.”

        This convince me that the vinyl format deserves a dignified death.

        Reply
        • jw
          jw

          That’s an interesting article, & he makes some good points, but I don’t think that his data set really tells the whole picture. I’ve got a Technics SL-1950 & a JVC AL-F97, & a shelf full of ~250 records. That’s a whole lot of records that I’m apparently not listening to because I’ve never gone to Target & bought a shitty Crosley turntable.
          In fact, everyone I know who listens to vinyl does so on used equipment. And there’s generally a cross section of both new & used vinyl. Most of the music that sells well on vinyl has a bit of a throwback quality (see: Daft Punk). And while this love of tangible music (especially in younger music fans) is often inherited from their parents (along with still working vintage hi-fi audio equipment), it’s also easy to pick up quality stuff from anywhere that sells used vinyl (or at thrift/consignment/antique shops, off of craigslist, at yard/garage/estate sales, off ebay, etc). Keep in mind this format started trending upwards BEFORE you could pick up a turntable at Target.
          I think Macklemore’s hit song Thrift Shop speaks to the link between “hipsters” (or whatever) and the second hand market. Part of the reason that vinyl has endured is because the equipment has endured. If hi-fi audio equipment from the ’70s & ’80s hadn’t been so well made, this resurgence wouldn’t have even been possible.
          Granted, I’m sure there are people who buy records & don’t own a turntable. But it’s kind of hilarious that he suggests that this is what’s driving the format resurgence. lol. I mean… think about that for a minute. lol.

          Reply
    • TK
      TK

      “Perhaps the next thing will be cassettes or CDs.”
      Cassettes are being used more and more by some indie bands. I assume it’s for the kitsch factor or nostalgia. I can’t imagine it would have anything to do with sound quality. I’ve seen them at shows in the Twin Cities.

      Reply
    • Jabsco
      Jabsco

      Actually there is in fact a huge cassette culture. This year is going to be the first Cassette Store Day. Some people really love the format.

      Reply
    • Thurenity
      Thurenity

      I’m not sure I’d call it a “fad” as it never really died and the numbers are just increasing over the last few years. A “fad” is something that essentially goes from unknown to very popular in the very short time, then drops off just as fast ie Cabbage Patch dolls or Beanie Babies. But that’s not what’s happening with vinyl.

      My guess is that there’s a generation of new music fans that want something tangible with good SQ (as vinyl does offer that, especially if engineers take a more hands-off approach to mastering LP’s) and large album art, where CD’s just aren’t good enough anymore. Lossy downloads for on-the-go and vinyl for in-the-home / dedicated listening, with CD’s starting to get the squeeze between the two. As such, I don’t think vinyl will drop off anytime soon — although the sales may stabilize at some point.

      Only time will tell.

      Reply
      • _justen_
        _justen_

        IRT your statement about CD’s getting the sqeeze, I couldn’t agree more. However, I think one thing that this conversation is missing is the marketing component. One of the greatest things about a vinyl record is the large format, which is second to none in the current market. A common criticism of mp3’s–seemingly lost on streaming culture–is they don’t engender any intimacy. There is no CD booklet, no artwork, no package. Apple recognized this in 2009 and attempted to create the same feeling through the iTunes LP program. It didn’t stick. Mp3’s are inherently mobile. Pandora was the first big success on the iPhone. Streaming and compression mean something culturally oppsed to the “old style” of opening a record, looking through the gatefold, reading the lyrics, fliping the record and enjoying it in a sitting.
        If the decision to “go tangible” is truly one made with intention, such as in your case with the mobile-fixed dichotomy, then why not make it as big and beautiful as possible? Why not make it an experience? I believe that is part of the story that is driving this growth. I agree that this is no fad.

        Reply
    • MusicMaker
      MusicMaker

      Impractical, maybe. But in terms of sound quality, Nothing comes close to analog on vinyl. This is especially true for music that is mostly acoustic, such as classical and jazz. Digital is great for convenience, but as long as there are people who want ultimate sound, vinyl will not be a fad and in fact will be around for the long haul.

      Reply
      • HDAudioPlus
        HDAudioPlus

        “In terms of sound quality, nothing comes close to analog on vinyl.”
        Not anymore. Listen to the acoustic guitar on this Peter, Paul & Mary video demo in HDAudioPlus “HiDef Mp3”.
        For jazz acoustics and vocals, check out our remaster of Barbra Streisand’s 1965 recording, C’est Si Bon; or Tony Bennett’s My Love Went To London

        Aside from our demos on Vimeo, there’s a huge audio only multi-genre demo “jukebox” on our HDAudioPlus homepage for evaluation and download.
        For baroque classical, visit our audio-on-demand subscription website, Baroque 24/7 and try out the free premium stream section in 320k mp3.
        Vinyl can never be more than a moderately lucrative niche market. The next new music platform should be equal to analog in sound quality, universally importable/exportable in any format and compatible with any mobile device or OS. Btw, the tiny file size of HDAudioPlus makes it perfect for mobile and streaming.
        Cheers,
        Paula Wertheim
        HDAudioPlus/Baroque 24/7
        Israel

        Reply
        • Humberto
          Humberto

          You must be joking ! The harshness of the digital file plus the almost cubist attempt at dynamic range are aweful!
          I can drop any Duke Ellington or Frank Sinatra album on my turntable and blow that digital abomination away!
          It must be an inability to understand and experience dynamic range, a sad but obviously very real loss.

          Reply
    • Peter
      Peter

      Obviously you have really listened to LPs on anything but compressed sound era (meaning now) equipment. LPs sound is vastly superior to compressed nothingness. Here is a test: Find, for example, a audio store that sells Audio Reseach equipment (made in Minnesota) and Wilson Audio Speakers (made in Utah) and bring in your compressed format music of piano or strings (a true test of sonic quality that gets destroyed in compressed formats) and get the same recording on LP and bring it in. If you are not blown away by the completely new and dramatically more engaging experience of LPs than you must not appreciate grass grown beef prepared by a top chef over lots of ready access to McDonalds Hamburgers.Boones Farm Wine tastes fine in college to get high till you grow up.

      Reply
      • NeilM
        NeilM

        Thats drivel, wierd fad my butt…
        People are realising what a rip off CD’s are, grossly over priced and that they are not a ‘forever’ product, they have also realised that the ‘Download’ is also not forever, its only for the lifetime of the licence holder, so there is nothing to leave anyone.

        When I slip off this mortal coil.. or should that be turntable, my record collection, which is effectively the sound track of my life, can be left to the next generation in my family. Or sold off to collectors as it contains some gems.

        Who wants to buy an iPod Nano with someones favourite tracks on it ? not whole albums ? Or crates of CD’s that wont play.
        I have vinyl I bought 35 years ago which still sounds as good as the day I bought it, in fact better as I am now playing it on a proper hi fi rather than a 1980s music centre.
        I have CD’s I bought 10 years ago that simply wont play in some players.
        MP3’s are such a poor representation of the original recording even when sampled at the highest rate. ok for listening to on iPod headphones, but NOT for anyone half serious about their music

        So I for one welcome this year on year growth of vinyl sales and its a figure set to only increase the more artists release on vinyl.

        So its certainly not a fad or some kind of retro kitch thing

        Reply
      • Kings Of Spins
        Kings Of Spins

        The vinyl sounds better, has more ‘air’ in the production because it is not compressed so badly. Digital music is like watching Black & White TV again.
        The vinyl album offers something tangible for the buyer to connect with the artists/act too.
        Go to a club and listen to DJ’s playing MP3’s it sounds terrible whereas a DJ playing vinyl sounds alive.

        Reply
      • Joe
        Joe

        It’s not weird, because there will always be collectors and now with the 180 g technology the sound is excellent , better than a CD or MP3 for that case … Also when u said that the sound quality is bad clearly you are not a music/sound expert (or never played vinyls) because even the old vinyls sound great … You should try it before judging is my advice …

        Reply
      • PiratesLoseLOL
        PiratesLoseLOL

        We keep hearing every year that vinyl is a “fad” yet it continues to grow. I started hearing this when I first got into vinyl around 2005 and yet now here it is 2013 and this “fad” still keeps getting bigger. Also, if you claim vinyl sounds bad, then you obviously were listening to it on some craptastic plastic Crosley thing… not a way to judge how vinyl really sounds. You can keep your worthless streaming nonsense. I’ll keep my records.

        Reply
      • Chooky
        Chooky

        I think there is a subset of the vinyl listening population that are probably in this camp.
        There are probably audiophiles who also will stick with it.
        For me I grew up with vinyl and I recently got back to it because I used to have a connection to music when I played vinyl. I read the liner notes, I coddled my vinyl and treated it gently, I admired the large album cover art, I knew the song names, the label, wheer it was recorded, and I actively listened to the music (I didn’t put it on in the background).
        I can’t tell you the name of 90% of the music on my Spotify playlists. Don’t get me wrong. Streaming media is wonderful. But now and again I want to slow down and smell the Guns and Roses.

        Reply
      • Filazafer
        Filazafer

        This is not complicated. I can tell you exactly why I buy vinyl:
        1. I want to own something more then just a digital file and vinyl looks and sounds better than CDs or MP3s. Plus they don’t cost much more.
        2. 95% of new vinyl releases come with a digital copy of the album. MP3s have horrible sound quality, but they are great for portability.
        3. Lots of vinyl releases are limited edition and collectible. I have sold several that are only a few years old for $50 to $150.
        4. They are nostalgic.

        Reply
  2. MDW123
    MDW123

    The inaugural International Cassette Store Day is to take place on September 7, it has been announced.

    Modelled on the annual Record Store Day, International Cassette Store Day 2013 is described by its organisers as “a celebration of a physical product that is accessible, fun, cheap and still going strong in the turbulent current musical climate”. It will see a number of limited edition albums released on cassette, and modern classic albums re-released on the much-loved format.

    Reply
  3. the unthinkable
    the unthinkable

    could it be that vinyl will be the NEXT MAINSTREAM FORMAT in music?

    after all, artists need to get paid, and fans are actually willing to pay for it. you have to admit, the economics of it make sense in a way that streaming just doesn’t.
    I also don’t think there is a single example of a format ever trending so strongly in the music industry without eventually achieving mainstream adoption.

    Reply
  4. B52
    B52

    PiratesWIN is just angry that he can’t afford a decent turntable and is stuck with crappy streaming on his 56k modem. 🙁

    Reply
  5. why?
    why?

    what you all don’t realize is that vinyl is COOL. a band is COOL if they have vinyl, and music being such an emotional thing, COOLNESS is everything. literally, artists are in the business of being cool.
    ipods used to be cool. now vinyl is cool. sit back and see what happens when the aritst community collectively decides something is cool.

    Reply
    • JTV Digital
      JTV Digital

      Agree.
      Nowadays a winning strategy may be the following:
      1/ release your music digitally, was it as downloads or singles
      2/ as soon as you have a significant fan-base and some fundings, release premium products / merchandise that your fans would love buying, like vinyl for example

      JTV Digital

      Reply
    • GGG
      GGG

      I think we all realize this perfectly. But there’s also a legitimate reason to buy vinyl, and plenty of people have been doing so for decades. Obviously these levels of growth won’t continue, but as long as there’s a large niche of people that want the sound quality and more active listening experience that vinyl provides it’ll be around. You could argue some CD quality is mathematically better than vinyl but there’s no romanticism around CDs. Or any other format for that matter.
      Though, having said that, there are probably a lot of people that swear by CDs, as well.

      Reply
  6. Just Another Voice in the Crow
    Just Another Voice in the Crow

    okay … i’m just a salesguy who’s spent time in the record retail and radio industries … but really, what does it matter if it sounds great, sounds like shit, it’s a fad, a trend, nostalgia, boutique … whatever …. gues what? people are making money on it and not worrying about any of that bullshit LOL.

    Reply
  7. hippydog
    hippydog

    I would say its biggest reason why its enduring is simply the “cool” factor..
    but as to “sound quality” the CD only has an advantage on the ‘noise floor’.. The analog vinyl enherently has a lot more noise..
    Frequency or bandwidth wise, the CD has more bandwidth.. Bandwidth that isnt used though, as human hearing doesnt really go past 16khz..
    What has been found out is that many of those weird audiophiles were right.. Humans prefer analog distortion over digital distortion. (one of the theories is digital distortion throws odd harmonics across the audio sprectrum that would never normally be there.. A scope may not pick up the distortion, but humans can).. This came from scientists trying to figure out why so many musicians still prefered tube-amplifiers over transistor amps.. They found out the tube amplifiers were higher in distortion, but the distortion had more “natural” harmonics..
    This then led them to apply the same testing to digital audio, and the “harmonics” even after filtering were even worse.. If you look up the history, this is why so many manufacturers started investing in much better post filtering (DACS) then before, to help compensate..
    Of course, only a very small percentage would detect or even care about this “digital distortion”, but I dont discount the idea of it like I used to..

    Reply
    • humberto
      humberto

      Its called digital compression, bottom line less of an auditory horizon or dynamic range if you want to think of it that way.

      Reply
  8. FrickinFrack
    FrickinFrack

    My prediction is – as more states legalize marijuana, vinyl sales will increase, because you can’t clean your weed on your iphone.
    ;p

    Reply
  9. Kevin Lane
    Kevin Lane

    Sound quality is the PRIMARY reason I purchase my music in vinyl format. I use digital music for mobile listening. I also enjoy the packaging much more than with CD’s.
    The truth of the matter is that most albums released on CD are simply too damn long. There are very few artists/groups that have enough good music to fill a 70 minute CD without including filler. Obviously, classical music is another matter. The 40 minute LP format is, my opinion, still the optimum length for most popular records, and if more time is needed, make it a double LP. I even have an album (Who’s Feeling Young Now? by the Punch Brothers) where the standard album took 3 sides of the double LP, and the 4th side contains bonus tracks that were NOT on the CD.
    Only time will tell if vinyl is a fad. I think the biggest problem with vinyl is the lack of quality low cost stand-alone players. If someone comes to market with a great-sounding but affordable stand-alone player, then vinyl sales with continue to grow.

    Reply
  10. Nick Katona aka DJ Revolution
    Nick Katona aka DJ Revolution

    Sadly this does not reflect all sales figures only the ones reported by soundscan which are much lower than actual sales.
    For anyone that thinks this that vinyl is a fad, your just fooling yourself. Vinyl has never gone anywhere it’s been available since 1903 and still going strong. That said sales did gradually drop when a brand new fad called CDs were introduced in the 1985 but by1993 only a handful of years latter vinyl started to bounce back and has been rising for the last 14 years as more and more people realized that CDs were not as good quality as vinyl. CDs become popular as they actually replaced cassette tapes for a more robust format.

    Another format would come along just 10 years after the CD (1985) was introduced for portability and ease of use called the mp3 there are many draw backs to this format one of which is audio quality it may sound good on a computer for the sound-bite generation but not for people that take music seriously and don’t use it as an accompaniment to web-surfing.

    When it comes to vinyl the quality is still best, keep them clean and store them properly and they will outlive you.

    Reply
  11. Scarpe Neri
    Scarpe Neri

    Playing vinyl is a ritual– to open the jacket, take the LP out of the paper sleeve and drop the needle. It usually means you have set time aside to consciously listen to music. Digital sound has gotten very good (unlike the awful sounding early CDs), but listening on ear buds is a vastly different experience. We like our art presented to us in a consecrated way, and that’s what vinyl is better at.

    Reply
  12. hank alrich
    hank alrich

    I was speaking with John Kunz of Waterloo Records about the present state of business. He told me that the resurgence of interest in vinyl had been a tremendous boon to his store and to every record store on the planet.
    He also said that it was proving to be the greatest generation bridge he’d ever seen, and a high school girl discovers that her mother has all of those Led Zepplin records, a teenage boy discovers that granddad was a Jimi Hendrix fan.

    As for the hipster component, who gives a shit? Seriously. Waterloo has stacks of turntables on offer, and they’re running out the door, in the hands of kids who definitely intend to listen to the music.
    As for amusement, it doesn’t get much better than reading disses of LP sound quality form people who’ve been listening to shitty MP3’s.
    The kids think a lot of contemporary digital releases sound like shit, and theyre not alone there, from the consumer to the mastering engineers who are being required to make loudness the primary criteria.
    As for inconvenience, we are becoming the laziest people ever.

    Reply
    • Jason K
      Jason K

      Bravo, I couldn’t have put it any better! I’m tired of digital cynics. If you don’t like vinyl and want to crap on the idea of the resurgence as being legit, then don’t buy vinyl. No one is forcing you.

      Reply
  13. Joe
    Joe

    I started collecting vinyls since I was a teenager and they are definitely special to me as well as having great sound (e.g. Listening to 70’s Pink Floyd pressing ) a couple of years ago the vinyl started coming back with strength especially with the new 180g tech … I used to work in a recording studio while in University and it was then that I noticed that vinyls are better than CDs. You don’t get that grandiose sound of bass and clarity that you get from vinyl … The funny part is that ppl talk so highly about mp3 while they are just getting 15-25% of the music quality , only this year that iTunes so they will not lose sales started with labels something called (remastered for iTunes) to get a better sound, but they won’t even get anywhere near the vinyl in sound quality. the thing si ppl who only listened to files won’t notice the difference … And what’s more funny is that the files that you got from iTunes is not yours and you can’t sell it, while my used David Bowie vinyls alone can fetch me 300-400$ if I want to sell them , but who would pay you money for files?

    Reply
  14. PiratesLose
    PiratesLose

    We’ve been hearing this nonsense for years that the vinyl comeback is a fad. If it were a fad, it would have been over long ago, instead of growing as it is each year.
    Also, keep in mind, that these sales figures only factor in NEW releases. The majority of vinyl sales are for used records, which don’t factor into this graph at all. It would be interesting to know how many used records have sold within this same time frame. Some of the Debbie-downers commenting here may point out that none of that money goes to the artists but that’s not neccessarily true – someone who buys a used record and really enjoys it will likely be inclined to buy a new release (or new reissue) from that band.

    Reply
  15. Filazafer
    Filazafer

    This is not complicated. I can tell you exactly why I buy vinyl:
    1. I want to own something more then just a digital file and vinyl looks and sounds better than CDs or MP3s. Plus they don’t cost much more.
    2. 95% of new vinyl releases come with a digital copy of the album. MP3s have horrible sound quality, but they are great for portability.
    3. Lots of vinyl releases are limited edition and collectible. I have sold several that are only a few years old for $50 to $150.
    4. They are nostalgic.

    Reply
    • HUMBERTO
      HUMBERTO

      Agree on all counts but actually vinyl is the greates deal of the century , just bought the whole bicentennieal DG Beethoven colletion in mint condition printed by Deutsche Gramophone for 25 bucks!!!! that’s over 70 exquisite LPs of the most amazing music in impecable condition recorded with impecable analog technology and printed on exquisite vinyl, it does not get any better than that!

      Reply

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