Vinyl outsells CDs for the first time since the 80s

Vinyl outsells CDs for the first time since the 80s
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Break out your crimpers and Transformers collection, records have outsold CDs in the US for the first time since the 1980s.

Despite physical media sales dropping by 23 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous year, vinyl continues to buck the trend with a rise in sales of 2.3 percent. That may not sound like much but, compared to the drop in CDs by 43.2 percent, and in the face of the pandemic, that's a positive bonanza for the groovy plastic disc.

According to RIAA, total music sales (digital and physical) still managed a climb of 7 percent overall in the face of the closure of music retail outlets, music venues and the cancellation of festivals and other music-based gatherings all over the world. That's a slight slow down compared to 2019's 9 percent growth but certainly nothing dramatic.

As for the humble LP/EP, sales so far in 2020 total an impressive 8.8 million records in the US at a value of $232.1m. To do CDs their dues, there were more units shipped (10.2 million) but sales were only $129.9m. Let's see how long before that record falls.

Dan Sung

Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.

  • Friesiansam
    I wonder how the sales numbers will change when vinyl goes out of fashion with the hipsters, as sooner or later they'll move on to something else.
  • TeleDav
    The staggering cost of LP's is the reason. As the article mentions at the end, more CD's were sold than Vinyl.
    The crazy mixed up thing is, the new LP's being released are just a vinyl version of the digital master, i.e. they had to go through a DAC!! Then you her people saying 'Oh, the vinyl sounds so much better'.
    Errr, no it doesn't, more like you prefer the EQ curve of Vinyl better.
    It does sound better next to any MP3 of course.
    Also, alot of the engineers who worked in the vinyl production are gone now, the skills are not there and there are many absolutely awfully poor vinyl pressing out there now, yet masquerading as top quality, top price items.
    At least in the 80's, it was a dying format and we could see reduction in product quality they were doing as; the vinyl was almost see-through they made them so thin!!
    I defend CDs, they are a good quality sounding media.
  • eoc69
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    Records buck the trend in the face of COVID-19 venue and retail shutdown.

    Mega: Vinyl outsells CDs for the first time since the 80s : Read more
    Except it doesn't.
  • manicm
    So CDs, contrary to popular belief, are alive and kicking.