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The Relentless Rise of Vinyl Record Sales

For the first time since 1987, music lovers in the United States are buying more vinyl albums than CDs.

Vinyl record playing on a turntable

Long-playing records, or LPs, first hit the market in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II. Vinyl records remained the at-home music-listening format of choice until 1979, when the Sony Walkman entered the scene. With the new cassette player, anyone could listen to music on the go. As a result, vinyl record sales started to tank.

Other inventions - like portable CD players and the iPod - only hastened vinyl records’ demise throughout the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Most people though that the end of vinyl records was inevitable.

Around 2008, however, vinyl started to become trendy once again. Demand had grown gradually and consistently since then. Listeners started choosing vinyl “for collectibility, sound quality or simply the tactile experience of music in an age of digital ephemerality,” said Ben Sisario in the New York Times in 2021.

And, last year, fans purchased 41 million vinyl records, compared to just 33 million CDs, according to a new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Vinyl sales grew by 17 percent in 2022, bringing in $1.2 billion in revenue. CDs made $483 million, a drop of 18 percent. Even so, both records and CDs made up only a small fraction of the music industry’s revenue in 2022. The majority - roughly 84 percent - came from streaming services.

Naturally, artists are also capitalizing on vinyl’s popularity. Spin magazine reports that Taylor Swift’s Midnights, which sold 945,000 copies, was the top vinyl release of 2022.


Cassette player

Gen Z Nostalgia Leads to Boom in Cassette Sales: Never doubt the power of nostalgia. On the heels of a recent resurgence in vinyl sales, music lovers are starting to turn their attentions to yet another classic form of music: the cassette tape. Read on...

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