Vinyl Sales Top Digital in the UK for First Time
For as many times as we've been told interest in vinyl has peaked, it keeps punching back.
Now The Guardian has reported vinyl music sales have recently topped digital downloads for the first time ever. In the UK, vinyl sales hit £2.4 million in one week compared to the £2.1 million made from digital music purchases. Consider that at the same time last year in the UK, vinyl album sales topped £1.2 million while digital sales were £4.4 million. Some of vinyl's gains were attributed to purchases made for the holiday season, as well as a growing market of vinyl-only record stores in the UK.
While the rise in vinyl album sales for this particular week is double what happened just 12 months ago, the noted drop is digital sales is even more dramatic. It's worth speculating that the decrease in digital music sales has to be at least partially chalked up to the rise in streaming.
Of course the resurgence of vinyl is the more interesting story to this blog, obviously, but it feels like it makes a lot more sense for music fandom too. People still want to feel like they own an album they love, and for our money vinyl is the best way to do that. Collecting vinyl is also an awesome activity that gets people out of the house to explore generations of recorded music as opposed to scrolling through a list of band names on your phone and pressing play.
In the US, the real trick is going to be keeping the indie record stores that host these buyable LPs in business, and that's no easy task, but stories like this offer hope. As this Washington Post article notes, however, it's important to keep enthusiasm for vinyl in perspective:
"Vinyl sales have been growing by 10 percent a year, but they still occupy a niche. For the first half of 2016, vinyl sales were $207 million, or about 6 percent of the $3.4 billion in revenue for the U.S. recording music industry. Digital downloads for singles and albums during the same period were more than $1 billion. Streaming accounted for nearly half the revenue during the first half of this year."
So even if this story about vinyl topping digital in the UK is something of an anomaly, we're still hoping it points to an even more exciting future for the medium, including more re-issues, a greater priority on new releases, and the reliable presence of record stores.