(By Paul Resnikoff | Published on January 3, 2017 for digitalmusicnews.com)
Sales of vinyl records refuse to stop exploding! In 2016, LPs, EPs, and 45s returned to sales volumes not seen since 1991. But does this party end?
It’s been a storied resurgence for vinyl records, which now include LP, EPs, and even 45s. Once considered a short-lived fad, this comeback has been going for ten strong years.
And, counting. According to the latest data, sales of vinyl records are now back to early-1990s volumes. According to data shared by British industry group BPI, vinyl record sales gained 53% in the UK alone last year. That brings the total to 3.2 million, exactly the same volumes recorded in 1991.
In the US, a similar surge is happening. That makes sense, given the cultural similarities of the two countries. According to data shared by BuzzAngle Music, vinyl record sales gained an impressive 25.9 percent last year, to 7.2 million units.
Still think this is a fad?
Actually, that turns out to be the number one fear for anyone considering an investment in vinyl records. That includes venture capitalists, retailers, and consumers. Will anyone care about LPs in 2020?
Perhaps the answer can be found in the data. According to BuzzAngle, vinyl records account for just 8% of overall physical albums. That figure is just 5 percent in the UK, all of which signals massive growth potential ahead.
But the BPI says there’s another nugget in the data: diversity. That is, a large number of vinyl titles are selling healthy amounts, instead of just blockbuster releases. “The depth of the vinyl revival is illustrated by the fact that over 30 titles sold more than 10,000 copies in 2016, compared to just 10 in 2015,” the group told DMN.
There are also a lot more places to buy vinyl. A number of larger retailers are getting involved, with Urban Outfitters and Barnes & Noble suddenly facing competition from big box retailers and supermarkets. But vinyl is also gaining strength from smaller record stores, at least the ones still standing. The BPI credited Record Store Day for a big boost, as well as “expanded retail floor-space, and with a new audience among younger fans”.
That last part — younger buyers — is also a secret ingredient. This isn’t just nostalgic baby boomers, though that’s certainly having an impact. Instead, the vinyl records revolution is spanning a number of age demographics, including younger fans that still want something tangible.