Younger People Aren’t Driving the Resurgence in Vinyl, Study Finds

Vinyl time
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With the arrival of new music formats, usually eager news reporters looking to post a story with an appealing headline are quick to announce, “The death of ____.” We’ve seen this with cassettes once CDs came out and VHS tapes once DVDs became mainstream. Lately, CDs and most other physical formats have been on marked as the next formats to be on the obituary list thanks in part to the huge rise of music streaming. Except for hardcore vinyl fans, people have long considered vinyl recordings as a cherished memory in the past. Not so, says a new study published by internet-based market research firm YouGov UK.

Digital Music News readers will remember a few weeks ago we reported on Jack White’s very ambitious plan to send a vinyl record up in space to be played, with his successful mission now written in the annals of music history. This isn’t just a coincidence. Last year, vinyl records sales topped a million units, with Forbes writing, “2015 marked the tenth consecutive year that vinyl sales have grown considerably, and the medium doesn’t look like it’s [sic] forward surge will slow down anytime soon.” So the question YouGov asked was, “Who are the people fueling vinyl’s comeback?” and they sure got a surprising answer.

According to their Profiles data, it’s not the hip youngster looking to check out what vinyl records were all about, but rather, “[vinyl] records’ resurgence is rooted in middle-aged nostalgia.” They also found “those that have purchased a vinyl album recently are more likely to be aged between 45-54.” Those aged 18 to 24 are the least likely to check out and purchase a vinyl record. Music is a necessary part of middle-aged everyday lives, with “two thirds (66%) of this group [saying] they could not get through day without listening to music.” Compare this with just 49% of UK respondents saying the same.

Like the super fan in the UK and the hardcore festie in the U.S., vinyl record lovers “are more likely to be happy to spend money to support their preferred acts (21% compared to 9%.)” In other surprising data which may lead to some interesting conclusions, vinyl owners tend to be more solitary (69% to 63%) and keep their feelings to themselves (56% to 53%).

Vinyl time image by Jonas Smith, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

4 Responses

  1. Nicky Knight

    I agree with this report.. The under 30 set aren’t interested in vinyl, it’s the 40~50+ set that go to it because of nostalgic reasons..

    But for me, I see the future of physical music swinging back to the Philips Compact Cassette..

    The audio cassette is great for analog fans and music collectors who want a physical artifact, am object of fascination and curiosity that contains the music, the songwriting, publishing, production credits and carries with it the artwork..

    The Audio Cassette is seeing a substantial resurgence especially among independent artists and labels..

    Look it up on google .. in the US there’s been a ~30% year on year growth in music audio cassettes..

    Bow Wow Wow had The Cassette Pet and I think it’s back !!!

  2. Anonymous

    Not surprising, given that vinyl costs two to three times that of a CD. Boomers and Xers simply have more disposable income than Mills.

    • Versus

      Good points. We should see numbers based on proportion of discretionary income spent on music, broken down by formats.
      I know a lot of younger people, even teenage children of my friends, who are buying vinyl; interesting that they often focus on “older” music though, like classic rock, and are nostalgic for a time when they think the music was better, long before they were born.