Vinyl Records Set to Outsell CDs This Year for the First Time Since 1986
If current trends hold, sales of vinyl records are set to outpace the sales of compact discs this year for the first time since 1986, according to the latest report from the Recording Industry Association of America.
Continuing a change seen in previous RIAA reports, the Mid-Year 2019 RIAA Music Revenues Report (released Sept. 5) shows vinyl records earned $224.1 million (on 8.6 million units) in the first half of 2019, as Rolling Stone reported. That's in comparison to the $247.9 million (on 18.6 million units) CD sales brought in during the same time. Should that gap continue to close, records could soon generate more cash than their optical disc counterparts.
The writing was on the wall in previous years' tallies. In fact, in 2018's latter half, vinyl revenue swelled by 12.8 percent. In the first six months of this year, it grew 12.9 percent, all while sales from CDs hardly moved.
Listeners of classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal are often seen as prime consumers for vinyl records, leading rock heavyweights such as Ozzy Osbourne to plot mammoth new vinyl collections containing over 20 vinyl discs. Still, not everyone's on board with vinyl's latest revolution: Earlier this year, Megadeth bassist David Ellefson said that vinyl "sounds like shit" to him.
Of course, the surge in vinyl sales is still just a drop in the bucket. Paid subscriptions to streaming services represented the lion's share of all music industry revenues — at 62 percent — compared to vinyl's total revenues of just 4 percent in the first half of 2019
But the swing continues music consumption's transformation. Last year, for the first time since 2011, physical albums outsold digital downloads, with CDs and vinyl moving $200 million more in sales than downloads.
Read the full Mid-Year 2019 RIAA Music Revenues Report here.
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