JazzTimes

GROOVE RETURN

The year 2019 concluded on an extraordinary note for the music industry. In the week ending December 26, more than 1.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the United States. That’s the highest weekly number since Nielsen began tracking music sales in 1991. And this record for records wasn’t an anomaly; last year also boasted the third-, fourth-, and fifth-biggest vinyl sales weeks of that nearly three-decade period. Clearly, the LP’s resurgence in the 21st century—roughly a 10% increase in sales every year for the past 15 years—shows no signs of abating. Further evidence of this long-running trend lies in the return of mom-and-pop record stores throughout the U.S. and the success of the twice-yearly Record Store Day events in April and November. (Record Store Day Black Friday on November 29, 2019, yielded the biggest overall album sales week of the year, with 2.8 million sold across all formats, including 855,000 records.)

Vinyl now accounts officially for 26% of all physical sales of recorded music in the U.S., though it should be noted that Nielsen doesn’t count used record sales and it’s not uncommon for those to outweigh new record sales 80% to 20% at your typical store. The LP’s total share of the revenue pie is even larger, because—as no regular haunter of disc emporia will be surprised to read—prices of records have gone up nearly 500% within a 10-year period. Retailers are increasingly seeing vinyl as high-value, and consumers are willing to pay more, sometimes much more, to get it.

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