Sales of vinyl music are (actually) breaking records

Image: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
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One of the fastest growing segments of the music business is also one of its oldest products.

Sales of vinyl records are booming. In the first six months of the year they were up 40.4%, only slightly behind growth in on-demand streaming, which grew by 42%.

And it continues. Last week (Black Friday) was the second biggest sales week for vinyl albums since Nielsen started tracking them in 1991, with 259,000 albums sold, up 19% compared to the same week last year, according to data obtained by Quartz. The biggest week on record (pun intended!) was in April, when 369,00 albums were sold as part of a major sales promotion in independent record stores.

A similar promotion was underway for Black Friday this year, with a number of exclusive vinyl releases from the likes of  The Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Chvrches, and New Order available in participating record stores. Which serves to reinforce the perception that it’s indie rock enthusiasts and nostalgists driving the trend.

The vinyl renaissance has actually been going on for quite a few years now.

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It’s not going to save the recorded music business. About 4 million vinyl albums were sold in the first six months of the year, compared to 121 million in total (albums + CDs + downloads) and 227 million albums once streaming equivalent sales are included.

Still, it’s one more sign that, the more consumers move to renting digital content and spending on experiences, the more they cling to a few nostalgia-inducing tangibles they can own.