Vinyl Sales Surpass CDs for the First Time Since 1987

In 1987, I was in my second year at university, and I was still two years away from meeting the woman who would become my wife.  Vinyl records were seen as old fashioned and a new format called the CD was all we could think of, and for the next 36 years vinyl slowly was relegated to the back row, seen as a fringe medium for old people who never jumped on the technology bus that would see CDs, then digital downloads to today’s streaming, become the chosen distribution methods for music delivery.

Those old vinyl die-hards are today having the last laugh and justifiably feeling a tad pleased with themselves, saying “I told you so…” to defend the vinyl format that they never left, as superior in all ways (barring a live symphony) as the best way to listen to music.

This week the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that for the first time since 1987 that vinyl sales have surpassed all other physical formats for music delivery in their 2022 year-end revenue report.  While vinyl has shown steady growth for the past 16 years, in 2022 total revenue for vinyl records grew 17% to over $1.2 billion and impressively, vinyl sales have almost doubled to where they were two years ago.  The Covid affect perhaps?  

Photo: RIAA

In 2022 71% of revenue from all physical formats (vinyl, CD, DVD, cassette) can be attributed to vinyl sales with close to 41 million albums sold in 2022. CD revenue in 2022 fell 18% to $483 million for about 33 million CDs sold on ’22.

Photo: RIAA

The RIAA reports that 2022 is the 6th straight year of growth for recorded music rising 6% last year to $15.9 billion and while vinyl shows terrific numbers it remains paltry against the $10.2 billion in revenue generated from paid streaming subscriptions from the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. 2022 is also the first year that paid streaming services surpassed $10 billion.

If you’re one of those vinyl fans that never let the candle burn out, todays your day for vindication.  If you are going to listen to a physical format, vinyl is just better and for the first time in three decades the numbers show that the nay-sayers have come on board to join you.

Hail hail rock ‘n roll!!  Read the whole RIAA report here.