Saturday, March 13, 2021

Vinyl sales revenue up but streaming remains king

Lots of buzz on various forums with the release of the RIAA sales and revenue figures for 2020. You can explore the details yourself at their site, including some interactive graphing options to explore further. The big story for some audiophiles is the news that vinyl sales revenue has overtaken CD for the first time in decades. That is news. But before you get too excited, recognize that in terms of total revenue, all material formats combined account for around 10% of sales, the rest are digital streams or downloads. The various tables and summaries on offer make for interesting reading, but the news that music sales are continuing their upward trajectory might be taken as encouraging news.

While vinyl sold 22.9m units compared to 31.6m CDs, the price difference between the two formats, which vinyl lovers know all about, means that LP revenues are higher, and that is the angle some folks are getting worked up over.  The vinyl market is worth north of $600m according to the latest data, up 28.7% last year.  It was not so long ago that CD sales in unit terms was so much greater than vinyl that many had predicted the LP was dead. Let's not forget, in 2000, only 2.2m LPs were sold. As a proportion of all music sales, LPs might be only around 6% now but they are selling millions more than at any time in most people's memory, year on year. And don't forget, this is while manufacturing capacity is maxed out after fire damage and the pandemic has hampered routine operations.

The full picture might make you wonder about the future of CDs more than vinyl, sales dropping for those silver discs some 23% in the last year,  but in a world where material preferences are elevated to cult-like loyalty and the industry is happy to get any sales they can, I suspect we'll be living with material discs, in both forms (overpriced and repackaged endlessly no doubt) for some time yet. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cd is still outselling Vinyl. Vinyl is at its peak, as boomers pass on it is a dead medium though I enjoy my LPs as well as my vast CD collection.