Don't Sit on the LP: Vinyl Still in the GameBy Ian Howarth, December 4, 2017
According to most information I’ve read on its re-birth, sales of vinyl in 2016 reached a 25-year high as consumers young and old have once again embraced physical formats of music. More than 3.2 million LPs were sold last year, a rise of 53% on 2015 and the highest number since 1991 when Simply Red’s “Stars” was the bestselling album. This was also the first year that spending on vinyl outstripped that spent on digital downloads. What? Outstripped digital downloads? Can’t be.
But, I guess the bigger question, and one for someone else to tackle is: Is this just a trend that is likely to go away? And are sales of vinyl making much of a dent in a troubled record business?
But here are some current vinyl sales stats:
For the 11th year in a row, Nielsen Soundscan reported an increase in vinyl albums sold in the United States. Consumers bought 13 million vinyl albums in 2016, an increase of 10 percent over 2015. That’s more vinyl records sold last year than from 2008 to 2012, the heralding of the genre’s comeback, combined. Compare that data with sales of CDs (down 16.3 percent) and digital sales (down 20.1 percent), and vinyl is the only music format with stable sales; everything else is in rapid decline. The Great White North, according to a IFPI 2016 Global Music Report, ranks #5 in top global vinyl sales, pushing 1.3 million units in 2015.
What these figures do not include is sales of second-hand records (so far not re-branded as previously-owned) a not-so-underground economy which probably has significant margins to it. Second-hand record stores have been a staple of the rock ‘n’ roll LP biz for decades now. Montreal has the venerable Cheap Thrills, a fixture on the used record scene since 1971, which gives it major street cred and seniority.
Currently sitting on my turntable is Supertramp’s “Even in the Quietest Moments,” which has been there for about the past 10 years since I disconnected my stereo to do some renos to the basement. The basement is LP-ready. I think it’s time to dust her off, then find where the outlet is. Then get someone to do it for me.