Vinyl Records Outsell CDs for the First Time Since 1986

A music fan flipping through a stack of records.About Life / Shutterstock

As physical music sales fade under the power of streaming services, vinyl records are finally getting their revenge on the compact disc. The Recording Industry Association of America reports that Vinyl CD this year – an achievement that has not been achieved since 1986.

Vinyl records make up 62% of physical music sales this year, overtaking CDs and generating $ 232 million in the first half of 2020. But it’s not just audiophiles buying wax – retail outlets like Walmart and Barnes and Noble now sell records alongside CDs, and touring musicians regularly sell vinyl records at merchandise tables. The average music fan may own a small stack of records, even if they don’t have a record player.

Sadly, overall sales of physical music have fallen 23% this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is making music stores less attractive and artists who usually sell records, CDs and tapes at shows cannot turn around at this time. The majority of physical media sales are done online, and the artists who benefit the most are classic rock groups like the Beatles and Queen, according to a report from Rolling Stone magazine.

And while record sales overtake CDs, streaming media accounts for 85% of all music revenue. Physical media make up a paltry 7% of that overall revenue, which is just slightly over the 6% earned by digital downloads.

Sources: RIAA and Rolling stone

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