Vinyl Records Outsell CDs
It took over three decades. Not to mention an industry-altering digital music revolution and a whole lot of people telling their friends about how “you have to hear this on vinyl,” … but for the first time since 1987, actual records sold more units than CDs in the U.S. last year. The figure solidified vinyl’s dominance over an otherwise increasingly irrelevant physical music landscape.
The feat is among the most noteworthy stats from the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2022 year-end report released on Thursday. Consumers bought 41 million vinyl units last year compared to 33 million CDs. For decades, the thought that an older format like vinyl could outsell CDs was absurd. But as the vinyl boom strengthened thanks to numerous factors from retro charm to larger, more collectible album art, it eventually became more of an inevitability.
There appears to be several factors at play in vinyl’s continued revival—including burgeoning interest among younger demographics like Gen Z and Millennials. According to Luminate’s 2022 annual report, Gen Z listeners were 25% more likely to purchase vinyl records than the average music listener.
The resurgence is coinciding with continued growth in streaming, which includes paid subscriptions, ad-supported services and on-demand apps, which the RIAA said made up 84% of the industry’s overall revenue.
All combined, the figures contributed to another banner year for the music industry. Sales of recorded music rose 6% to a record $15.9 billion last year. That’s the seventh straight year of growth. Of course, streaming is (and will continue to be) the biggest driver of the industry’s recent expansion.