Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images
Vinyl albums outsold CDs last year for the first time since 1987, according to the Recording Industry Association of America at the end of the year. The report was released Thursday.
It marks the 16th consecutive year of growth in vinyl, with 41 million albums sold – compared to 33 million for CD.
Streaming continues to be the music industry’s biggest growth driver, accounting for 84% of recorded music revenues, but physical music formats have seen a significant resurgence in the past couple of years.
Vinyl revenue grew 17% and topped $1.2 billion last year, making up nearly three-quarters of the revenue brought in by physical music. Meanwhile, CD revenue fell 18% to $483 million, the RIAA said.
The pandemic resulted in a huge spike in vinyl record demand, largely driven by younger buyers. Vinyl has become a major part of artists’ marketing campaigns.
Artists including Adele and Taylor Swift have made pop music a fast-growing genre on vinyl, and many independent manufacturers have struggled to ramp up and keep up with demand after years of decline. This forced some bands to postpone album releases and stopped smaller artists from being able to press records.
The recorded music industry’s fortunes began to improve in 2016 with the growth of streaming services, offsetting declines in CD sales and online music piracy. Paid subscription services including Spotify and Apple Music brought in $10.2 billion from 92 million paid subscribers in 2022, passing $10 billion for the first time, according to the RIAA.
Ad-supported streaming, like YouTube, generated $1.8 billion and accounted for 11% of recorded music revenue. Digital download revenue, which includes albums and track singles, fell 20% to $495 million.
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