The Curious Case of Vinyl: Still Setting ‘Records,’ Still Niche

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Labels have been treated to a number of unexpected growth stories over the past decade, perhaps the most out-of-the-blue being ringtones.

But as the ringtone wanes, the trajectory on another unexpected contender, vinyl, remains on the up-and-up.

Make no mistake, vinyl is still niche, though it has now grown beyond its initial small footprint of deejays, die-hard collectors and other aficionados.  According to the latest data from Nielsen Soundscan, wax has already set a sales record in 2009 – at least for the 90s and 2000s.  Specifically, US-based sales recently crossed into the two millions, beating a 2008-year total of 1.9 million.

Part of that is coming from the retro-cool of it all, though other factors – including spacious artwork, lyrics, and lots of tangible satisfaction – are also playing a role.  Actually, that is great for niche retailers, and instructive for artists.  Outside of that, the payoff remains limited – in perspective, year-to-date album sales are now past 320 million, also according to Soundscan.