Vinyl records in a row on a shelf
Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

Vinyl is Alive and Well, and Collectors Plan to Upgrade Hardware This Year

It’s no surprise that vinyl has been experiencing a resurgence, not just among Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, but those of the new generations as well. And research and analytics company MusicWatch recently conducted a survey alongside the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) and the Music Business Association to learn more about habits and trends when it comes to purchases of the nostalgic format. The survey also suggests good news when it comes to the hardware side of the equation as well.

The study, titled Revelations About the Vinyl Revolution, discusses the current state of the vinyl market in detail, along with preferences and predispositions of purchasers. It was conducted between March 7th and 31st among nearly 1,400 consumers across the U.S. in nearly every lifestyle segment, including both the general population and vinyl enthusiasts. 

What did the study uncover? First off, an estimated 18 million consumers aged 13 and older purchased vinyl during 2021, a 27% increase over 2020, during which the market was severely impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among buyers of vinyl over the past two years, 71% purchased new records and 67% bought used ones. What’s more, almost all (95%) of vinyl buyers expect to continue purchasing the format in the coming year.

More than one in three buyers (38%) have been purchasing vinyl for more than a decade and say they prefer the format because they value the authenticity and “warmth” that vinyl records deliver. Those who began buying more recently also appreciate vinyl’s sound quality, along with the packaging, features, and artwork that are part of the vinyl experience. The number of artists embracing vinyl influences these newer buyers as well. Collecting vinyl is also popular with 16% of purchasers buying records strictly to own them, while 21% buy them to collect and listen to.

This is all good news for the industry because naturally, an increase in vinyl purchases has a positive impact on hardware sales as well. Indeed, the survey found that one-in-three turntable owners plan to upgrade their record player or other audio equipment next year.

It should be noted that those who are embracing vinyl aren’t doing so at the expense of newer technologies: vinyl buyers are also engaged in a wide range of music listening and purchasing options, including the latest digital streaming platforms. It makes sense that while you might listen to a streaming service from a smartphone while going for a run or traveling via public transit, when it comes to at-home listening, you might prefer to sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in a wonderful album.

“This landmark research conducted by MusicWatch underscores the unique role that vinyl records are playing today,” says Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO, RIAA. “The report shows that vinyl helps fans support and connect with artists and the music they love in both old ways and new.”

The study comes on the eve of the music industry’s annual Record Store Day, which will take place this Saturday, April 23. The event brings both indie record store and major retail customers together to celebrate the overall record collecting and music listening experience.

More than half of vinyl buyers are aware of Record Store Day and plan to visit a physical shop or online site to celebrate.

More details on the results of the study will be revealed next month: stay tuned.