Vinyl sales outperform CD for the second year in a row

The vinyl renaissance continues. Analogue LP sales surpassed CD sales again in 2023.

written by / 2024-04-07 - 8:00 am
Vinyl sales outperform CD for the second year in a row

The analogue LP (or vinyl if you’re under 40) is alive and well. And it’s clearly doing better than its “successor”, the CD, which continues its decline in unit sales.

This is according to the annual statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America (better known by its acronym, RIAA). It shows that the number of analogue records sold in 2023 was 43 million albums, while only 37 million CDs were sold. This is the second year in a row that more LPs than CDs have been sold.

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The LP’s victory over the CD should of course be seen in the context that digital discs have been in decline for years, to put it mildly, and that CD sales have fallen by 95 percent since their peak in 2000. However, the 43 million vinyl records sold still generated a respectable $1.4 billion in revenue.

Although CD sales were almost as high as vinyl sales, digital aluminium discs only brought in $537 million. That’s less than half of LP sales. So while LPs have become a luxury lifestyle product, CDs are something we pick up from the bargain bin.

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Streaming is all-dominant

Before the vinyl fanatics and turntablists pop the champagne corks, it’s worth mentioning that physical music sales are second only to digital. In 2023, music streaming, with or without adverts, generated a total revenue of 14.4 billion dollars. That’s more than 10 times as much as LP sales. And when we look at streaming revenue, it’s important to remember that the cost of streaming a single song must be calculated in fractions of a cent. The total number of plays on music streaming should be counted in trillions of songs.

If you are one of those music users who prefer to buy your music in the form of downloaded files on your hard drive, you are part of a small exclusive community. Only 20 million music albums were sold as downloads in 2023, with a total value of $204.7 million. Only extremely esoteric things like cassette tapes and SACD discs are less popular than that.

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