Vinyl on target to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986

Vinyl on target to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986
(Image credit: Bandcamp)

The comeback of vinyl is nearly complete with sales of the black groovers within touching distance of the once-proud compact disc.

Figures just released by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) show a 13 per cent increase for LPs and EPs, with US sales worth $224.1m in the first half of 2019 compared to $198.6m for the same period of 2018.

CD sales stayed virtually the same at $247.9m, up just 0.8 per cent, at a time when total revenues across the industry rose by 18 per cent to $5.4 billion in retail sales. If that growth rate retains that momentum, vinyl looks good to outsell CDs for the first time in over 30 years.

Interestingly, in terms of actual units, there’s a slightly different story. For all of vinyl’s 13 per cent sales rise, there was only a 6 per cent shift in the number of records actually sold. So, either Americans are buying more expensive LPs than before or the price of vinyl has gone up. The truth most likely lies somewhere in between.

Elsewhere in the report are figures that show paid subscriptions to streaming services proved the biggest climber across the US industry. A rise of 31 per cent to revenues of a mighty $3.3bn represents 62 per cent of total industry sales across the first six months of the year.

Overall then, one might interpret the data to say that there’s a growing desire for better quality listening, or perhaps that everyone’s sick of adverts. Once again, the truth most likely lies somewhere in between.


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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.