Vinyl: Now Available at Your Local Supermarket Chain

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Vinyl sales have been exploding for nearly a decade, but where can you buy a record these days? If you’re in Britain, try aisle 17 of your local supermarket.

The music industry witnessed another massive increase in the sale of vinyl in 2015, with a 29.8% boom in the US alone according to Nielsen Music.  Over the past decade, sales in this format have been growing steadily: 6.1 million records were sold in 2013, 9.2 million in 2014, followed by nearly 12 million in 2015— which marks the 10th straight year of vinyl sales growth, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Nielsen Music also says that independent record stores have driven the sales, accounting for 45% of all vinyl sales in the US.  That’s a refreshing boost: while most traditional record stores are crumbling, it’s exciting to see the opening of stores dedicated to vinyl.

But increasingly, LPs are popping up in non-music retailers.   In November last year, Barnes & Noble opened vinyl sections in each of its 650 stores.  But multinational trend-setter Urban Outfitters has been in this game for years, and now claims to be the largest vinyl retailer in America.

But it’s not just in the US that vinyl is growing, it’s also booming in the UK.

Retailers — of all stripes — are responding.  In December 2015, Tesco — the biggest supermarket chain in the UK — decided to stock a range on vinyl albums after a successful trial during the summer.

”Our trial selling vinyl this summer was a real success with all our stock selling out and this really proved to us just how popular the vinyl album format is again with music fans,” says Michael Mulligan, Music Buyer.

The supermarket giant now stocks classics like Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen, Legend by Bob Marley, and Purple Rain by Prince, amongst several others across 40 of their stores.  Now, Sainsbury’s – another UK-based mega-supermarket in the UK — has announced plans to stock vinyl across 171 stores.

“There is an enduring love for this format with music fans and we’re delighted to offer an ongoing selection of titles for everyone, from contemporary releases to much-loved classics”, says Pete Selby,Head of Music and Books, Sainsbury’s.

This is all being buoyed by a similar nostalgia rush across the pond.  In the UK, vinyl sales have grown year-on-year since 2007, reaching a massive 1.3 million in 2014, the highest annual total since 1995.

So what does this mean for artists?

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This is now starting to seriously benefit artists, both in the US and UK.  Indeed, vinyl is the only other growth area in the music industry besides streaming.  But vinyl is generating more revenue than all ad-supported on-demand streaming music services, combined.  This includes YouTube Music, VEVO, SoundCloud, free Spotify, and all ad-supported, on-demand streaming music platforms.

That’s a trend that’s likely to continue, especially with supermarkets — not to mention a full range of other retail categories — jumping on the profit train.


(Image by Alan Levin, Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic, cc by 2.0)

5 Responses

  1. Versus

    ” vinyl is generating more revenue than all ad-supported on-demand streaming music services, combined”

    …but not profit, presumably?
    Cost of vinyl manufacturing and distribution is substantial.

    • doktor audio

      costs are substantial, yet artists will be able to keep about $5 of every sold piece for themselves if they sell enough. let’s assume the margins are there. I’m more curious about how many times listeners will actually spin the records they buy.

  2. Stefan

    Another surface level article with no context about vinyl sales. How about digging into the meat of this story and writing about what vinyl is selling and how hard it is to get vinyl pressed.

    Only last week on of LA’s best record stores closed because selling vinyl is an unsustainable model. Urban Outfitter saw an opportunity to differentiate themselves from it’s competitors by selling vinyl and filling the void left by Record Stores. But filling their bins with Katy Perry and Justin Bieber records will only lead to an eventual pulling away from selling records as they are not selling music true vinyl Junkies are seeking.

    There is and always has been a very vibrant vinyl market that is more than
    ‘ nostalgia’ and is catered too by well informed dealers and stores. The fact % sales are quoted in this article means nothing without context or real vinyl sales figures which can never be accounted for properly as they are mainly second hand collectible sales.

    The fact Tesco now sells a few Major label reissues has no bearing on a story about increasing vinyl sales. They will withdraw from the market as quickly as they entered when they realize the ‘fad’ is over and they do not have the resources or expertise to sell vinyl. Their present policy is a result of pressured selling by Major Label distributors and not because they have any loyalty or mission in the Vinyl market.

  3. Anonymous

    New LP’s are $15-$25 and not portable (listening wise)

    The CD is half the cost, and sorta portable

    Downloads are a third the cost, and portable with some minor hassle.

    Streaming is essentially free, and if you have signal, portable without a second thought.

    Let’s see which business model wins out amongst young consumers.