Vinyl records outsell CDs for first time in decades

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Vinyl record sales outperformed CDs in the US for the first time since 1987, according to a new report.

Just over 41 million vinyl records were sold in 2022, to the tune of $1.2bn (£.99bn). Only 33 million CDs were sold, amounting to $483m.

It was the 16th consecutive year of growth for record sales, about 71% of physical format revenues.

Recorded music revenue in the US grew for the seventh consecutive year and reached a record high of $15.9bn.

Overall, revenue for recorded music in 2022 increased by 6%, according to the report released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), driven largely by streaming but also by physical music format sales.

The report found that revenue for physical music formats has steadily risen over the years, marked by a “remarkable resurgence” in 2021 after being muted by Covid-19 in 2020. Physical music revenues as a whole were up 4% last year, propelled by vinyl records which saw a 17% increase. Meanwhile, revenue from CDs fell 18%.

Physical copies of music continued to perform better than digital downloads, the report found, which saw yet another decline in revenue, dropping by 20% to $495m. It’s a stark contrast from the peak popularity digital downloads once held, having made up 43% of recorded music revenues in 2012. Since then, downloads have plummeted – to just 3% last year.

Revenue from streaming, which includes “paid subscriptions, ad-supported services, digital and customized radio, social media platforms, digital fitness apps and others,” grew 7% to a record high $13.3bn. It accounted for 84% of total revenues.

Last year’s vinyl record sales demonstrate that vinyl is “cementing its role as a fixture of the modern music marketplace,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said in a post on Medium.

“Music lovers clearly can’t get enough of the high-quality sound and tangible connection to artists vinyl delivers,” Glazier said, “and labels have squarely met that demand with a steady stream of exclusives, special reissues, and beautifully crafted packages and discs.”

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