Vinyl is still winning: sales are up 94% in 2021 with $467m revenue Stateside

Vinyl's resurgence continues apace
(Image credit: Dids from Pexels)

After a largely locked-down 2020, it seems vinyl is back on course and continuing its extraordinary winning streak in 2021. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has just posted its mid-year music revenue report, with a key finding being that in the first half of 2021, revenues from vinyl albums grew 94 per cent to $467 million in the US. 

Although this comparison (ie. versus the prior year) includes the period in which retail stores were significantly impacted by Covid-19 – and Record Store Day 2020 was delayed, eventually taking the the form of three virtual RSD drops – it is certainly more evidence of the humble record's continued resurgence.

The RIAA report also found, for example, that revenues from CDs increased by just 44 per cent in the first half of 2021, to $205 million. Yes, it's an increase on 2020, but what it really means is that revenues from our once beloved compact disc still remain 19 per cent lower than they were in the first half of 2019 – ie. pre-coronavirus.

In fact, in the United States, CDs represented just 30 per cent of all physical format revenues, while vinyl accounted for more than two-thirds of tangible music takings.

Meanwhile, revenues from music streaming, a category that includes a wide range of formats such as paid-for subscription services, ad-supported services, digital and customised radio plus licenses for music on Facebook and digital fitness apps, grew 26 per cent to $5.9 billion in the first six months of 2021. Streaming accounted for 84 per cent of total revenues for the period, about the same level as for the first half of 2020.

Want to add to your LP collection? See our pick of 18 songs that sound their best on vinyl (remember, we like our list, but we're always open to suggestion), check out 10 of the best vinyl subscription services and of course, consider a stroll to your local record shop to support independent bricks and mortar stores.


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.