Vinyl sales officially trumped CDs for a second year in a row

 Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo lifestyle.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo lifestyle.
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Vinyl outsold CDs for the second year in a row according to official statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

RIAA's latest figures report that 43 million vinyl records were sold in 2023, outstripping the 37 million CDs shifted over the same period, amounting to $1.4 billion worth of revenue.

This is the second year running that vinyl has outsold its digital cousin. We reported last year that vinyl had momentously beaten CD sales in 2022 for the first time since 1987, with vinyl albums selling 41 million units in comparison to just 33 million for CDs.

The reasons for this resurgence aren't set in stone, but it's easy to point to some obvious reasons. Vinyl has continued to retain its classic, retro appeal, with social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube far more likely to see content creators espouse the virtues of their vinyl collections than their racks of old CDs. Some of them are so young they've probably never had a cause to own the latter, while the former seems like a charming format from a bygone age.

Taylor Swift Lover vinyl in two colours
Taylor Swift Lover vinyl in two colours

Then, of course, there's the small matter of Taylor Swift. You can't move in 2024 for mentions of the uber-popular popstar, with Swift dominating US vinyl sales to a ludicrous degree. Releases of 1989, Speak Now, Midnights and Utopia on vinyl go a long way to explaining why figures are continuing to climb. The Swifties are a powerful market force.

Vinyl revival events and initiatives such as Record Store Day have also been fundamental to this continued resurgent growth – we've certainly played our part by reporting on such initiatives.

As for CDs, the picture isn't as bleak as you might think. CD revenue was actually up in 2023 according to RIAA, even if physical units sold took a bit of a dip. Still, there appears to be a continued appetite for physical media, and while streaming services continue to monopolise the market (streaming accounted for 84 per cent of recorded music revenues in 2023 according to the RIAA), it isn't the only player in the game.

If you're interested in the vinyl revival, keep an eye out for our upcoming vinyl week where we'll be celebrating the best of the format.


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