Vinyl Still Rocks: Highest vinyl sales since 1988 and continued growth befuddles everyone (except audiophiles)

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released its sales figures for 2015 and there is one constant: Vinyl still rocks. For the ninth year in a row, vinyl sales have increased year over year to their highest levels since 1988. In the words of Cary Sherman, RIAA’s Chairman & CEO, “Last year, 17 million vinyl albums, a legacy format enjoying a bit of a resurgence, generated more revenues than billions and billions of on-demand free streams: $416 million compared to $385 million for on-demand free streams.”

Vinyl albums were still only 6% of the overall retail music market (by value) and 21% of physical revenues in 2015
Vinyl albums were still only 6% of the overall retail music market (by value) and 21% of physical revenues in 2015.

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, however. Vinyl albums were still only 6% of the overall retail music market (by value) and 21% of physical revenues in 2015.

But want to know the the best thing about the vinyl sales statistics? No one knows why they keep growing—at least if you’re not an audiophile. Audiophiles (and in this case I’m defining the term as music lovers and not people who love listening to how their gear sounds) have always cherished that special something about vinyl. It sounds just so right.

 So there you have it.  Vinyl’s comeback continues.  While it’s still nothing more than a tiny blip in the sea of music revenue, that little blip is gaining more and more strength each year.
And I’d like to close with an important note.   As streaming revenues continue to rise, there’s no better way for audiophiles and music lovers alike to support the artists and music writers they love than to purchase vinyl.   Artists and writers are getting paid pennies on the dollar for streaming services to the point where it’s harder and harder for artists to make a living.  That’s yet one more reason why the growth of vinyl is good news for everyone.

And you know what, it’s not just the sound of vinyl, but it’s the experience too.  Opening an album, reading the liner notes, enjoying the artwork. All those sensory experiences have value.  But there’s one other major thing that the recording industry did that should be noted.

As the RIAA’s Josh Friedlander, rightly points out, adding a digital download cods with every vinyl purchase has been an extremely positive and necessary move.

vinyl-2.2
In essence what the record companies did is realize one very important thing.  True music lovers want both quality (for intense listening sessions) and convenience (for background and portable use).  No matter how much of a music lover someone is, they aren’t going to spend their time ripping LPs.  Moreover, when push comes to shove, the music lover isn’t going to spend their hard-earned dollars twice by purchasing a vinyl copy first and then a digital download.
So there you have it.  Vinyl’s comeback continues.  While it’s still nothing more than a tiny blip in the sea of music revenue, that little blip is gaining more and more strength each year.
And I’d like to close with an important note.   As streaming revenues continue to rise, there’s no better way for audiophiles and music lovers alike to support the artists and music writers they love than to purchase vinyl.   Artists and writers are getting paid pennies on the dollar for streaming services to the point where it’s harder and harder for artists to make a living.  That’s yet one more reason why the growth of vinyl is good news for everyone.

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