JOPLIN, Mo. — Sales of vinyl records have been on the rise for years, but according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) 2022 year-end revenue report for the music industry, record sales hit a new high for last year.
Vinyl record sales have consistently increased over the last 16 years according to the RIAA report. Now, they account for 71% of all physical music format revenue. While physical formats as a whole increased by 4%, earning $1.7 billion between 2021 and 2022, vinyl sales alone accounted for $1.2 billion, experiencing a 17% increase in sales compared to the previous year. CD sales on the other hand, plummeted by 18% in 2022.
Lynn Brennfoerder, owner of Dig It Record Barn, said vinyl sales at his Joplin business continue to climb.
“I would say over the last three years, I’ve seen pretty significant growth and I anticipate those sales will continue to grow for at least another decade,” said Brennfoerder.
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There are several factors driving the vinyl revival. Although the opinion is subjective, Brennfoerder claims the format provides a warmer, more authentic sound compared to digital.
Nostalgia also plays a part for those who lived through the golden age of vinyl, but younger generations are driving sales too. Artists for the Gen-Z and millennial demographic made up a significant number of record sales in 2022. Taylor Swift was the highest-selling artist last year, selling almost 1.7 million vinyl records alone — more than Harry Styles (719,000 sales) and The Beatles (553,000 sales) combined, according to Luminate’s year-end sales report.
“The generation that’s coming around now into vinyl has realized the value of an LP, and by that I mean the album artwork, the notes from the album — just owning something that’s tangible. I also think nostalgia is a part of it. It’s more of an authentic listening experience. You feel a little closer to the musician, and the sound is warmer than anything digital,” said Brennfoerder.
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While vinyl has made an impressive comeback, streaming still reigns supreme. The RIAA report found that music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music accounted for a whopping 84% of total music revenue in 2022, having grown by 7% compared to the previous year to a record high of $13.3 billion.
Digital download sales, however, continue to decline. The format plummeted by 20% this year to just $495 million, having already fallen by 12% in 2021.
As for the CD or compact disc, Brennfoerder said this music format will never see a resurgence.
“CDs are — well — they’re dead. And I don’t look for them to be resurrected.”