The vinyl revival continues as sales hit their highest levels in decades

Vinyl record collection
(Image credit: Future)

As we enter 2024, it’s nice to know that physical media isn’t dead in the water. Quite the opposite in fact – the resurgence of vinyl continues as sales of records increased for the 16th consecutive year over 2023.

Sales grew at their fastest rate this decade with 6.1 million units sold, an 11.8% increase compared to 2022. This marks the highest level since 1990. 

Purchases of vinyl declined steeply during the 1980s as the CD became the new and preferred physical format for music. While vinyl is on an upward trend, it’s still a long way from hitting the heights seen during its heyday at the end of the ‘70s. 

What’s also interesting is that seven of the top 10 best-selling entries for the year were new releases, rather than older catalogue albums, highlighting how this resurgence could be turning into more than just a nostalgia trip. 

Figures provided by The Official Chart Company show that Taylor Swift led the way with the album ‘1989’, while her albums ‘Midnights’ and ‘Speak Now’ also featured in the top ten for 2023. Alongside Taylor, artists such as The Rolling Stones, Lana Del Rey and Blur also featured.

Cassette sales surpassed six figures for the fourth year running, with Olivia Rodrigo proving the most popular. The cassette looked dead in the water a decade ago, so to see figures climb steadily over recent years is a welcome sight. Last year saw roughly 136,000 audio cassettes sold.

By contrast, CD sales continued to fall, but the rate of this decline slowed to its lowest level since 2015. 

Streaming of course still dominates music consumption and accounted for almost 88% of the overall recorded music market last year. 179.6 billion audio streams accumulated over 2023, a 12.8% increase from 2022, and this contributed to a ninth consecutive annual rise in recorded music consumption in the UK.

However, physical media still play a pivotal role at the top of the Official Albums Chart, with 86% of the albums that debuted at the top of the charts having over 50% of their chart-eligible sales coming from physical formats. 

Whether the renewed and rejuvenated interest in vinyl will continue indefinitely is hard to predict. However, we’re enjoying it while it lasts.


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Staff Writer

Ainsley Walker is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied music journalism at university before working in a variety of roles including as a freelance journalist and teacher. Growing up in a family of hi-fi enthusiasts, this naturally influenced his interest in the topic. Outside of work, Ainsley can be found producing music, tinkering with retro tech, or cheering on Luton Town.

  • Tinman1952
    So biased....
    This article carefully avoids stating that Brits bought TWICE as many CDs as vinyl records last year!