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UK vinyl sales to overtake CDs for the first time in three decades

The resurgence of vinyl fuels music growth in UK

While the worldwide coronavirus lockdowns have prevented us from seeing our favourite artists and DJs live, it hasn’t stopped us listening to them. The pandemic has forced us to spend our money in different ways, with a surge of sales in vinyl as fans build and bolster their record collections.

In the UK, sales of vinyl increased by nearly a third (30.5%) to £86.5 million – the highest total since 1989 – with the number of vinyl records sold hitting a three-decade high of 4.8 million last year. This marks the 13th consecutive year of growth, despite physical shops closing across the country.

Phonica, London. Credit: Michael Wilkin

Kylie Minogue’s DISCO was the best-selling vinyl album released in 2020, and with 16,700 vinyl copies sold in it’s first week, Lana Del Rey now has the fastest-selling vinyl of the century for a female act.

With a record year for vinyl, it isn’t so rosy for CDs as sales income fell by 18.5%, although this sales reduction still meant £115m in revenue. Bizarrely, earlier this year cassette sales climbed to their highest in the UK in 17 years – with over 150,000 units sold.

“Vinyl’s exceptional performance despite retail lockdowns confirms its role as a long-term complement to music streaming. 2021 is likely to be the year in which revenues from LPs overtake those from CDs for the first time in well over three decades – since 1987.”

Geoff Taylor, CEO of British Phonographic Industry

It’s a similar story over in the United States too, as vinyl revenue overtook CD revenue for the first time since 1986. US vinyl enthusiasts spent $136 million more than the total amount spent by US music fans on CD albums ($483.3 million) last year.

Have you been bolstering your record collections with vinyl and cassettes? And more importantly, who still buys CDs?

Words: Eliot Harris

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