US Vinyl Record Sales Topped 2 Million Last Week—But How Accurate Is Luminate Data?

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Photo Credit: Julio Rionaldo

U.S. vinyl record sales topped 2 million in the week before Christmas (ending 12/21) according to data firm Luminate. The format’s sales continue to grow, but proposed changes to how Luminate calculates these sales in 2024 have some vinyl groups seeking data from the source.

According to Billboard, this past week in vinyl sales was the third-largest week of the modern era, since Luminate began tracking sales data in 1991. Holiday shopping and promotions likely contributed to the massive sales week, with Taylor Swift’s 1989 coming out on top with 57,000 copies sold. Swift’s re-release of her albums gave her the top four spots of best-selling vinyls. Taylor Swift’s total vinyl sales were 194,000—accounting for 9.5% of all vinyl albums sold in the U.S. for that week.

Luminate says it has plans to direct report sales from indie record stores, rather than offering a weighted average as it currently does. Vinyl organizations have opposed the change, including The Vinyl Alliance and the Vinyl Record Manufacturers Association (VRMA).

“With less than 5% of independent physical retailers currently reporting directly to Luminate, the data collected will be a grossly inaccurate representation of the sales of physical products,” the VRMA told Digital Music News earlier this month.

Since Luminate plans to go forward with its data reporting changes on December 29, VRMA says it is actively engaging with alternative third-party reporting source to “collect and report quarterly data at the record-pressing plant level to ensure we have a counter-balance to Luminate’s reporting.” It’s unclear who that third-party partner may be, but it will be interesting to see the data compared to what Luminate reports as these changes take effect.

Luminate claims it receives 93.3% reporting coverage for sales data, but industry sources claim that’s a gross overstatement. According to Forbes, who spoke to a major label source, around 600 indie stores sell meaningful amounts of records and of that number, only 12% report data to Luminate. The VRMA estimates that the changes could impact vinyl reporting by as much as 40%.