Over a Quarter of 2019’s Physical Music Sales Came From Vinyl

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New data indicates that over 25% of the physical music sold in 2019 was in the resurgent vinyl format.
David Hilowitz/Creative Commons

If you’re a diehard fan of physical media when it comes to music, some new information about the year that was in music sales offers plenty to ponder — for reasons both good and concerning. Forbes reports that just over 25% of physical album sales last year in the United States came in the ever-popular and surprisingly resilient form of vinyl.

What does it mean? Well, while overall purchases of music are down in comparison with streaming, the share of those purchases comprised of vinyl is up from the previous year. And for those wondering what the current state of physical media is for 2019, the answer is “pretty solid, actually.” The article at Forbes cites a total of 73.5 million albums sold in some physical form or another last year. While this may be significantly smaller than it once was, that’s still a pretty sizable number.

Factoring in the costs of each, vinyl may end up bringing in more money overall than CDs — though the question of which is more profitable is the kind of thing you can find people endlessly debating in various online forums.

Readers of the Forbes article will find one other fascinating piece of information: the bulk of the year’s top-selling vinyl came via older records. Billboard reports that the top-selling album on vinyl for 2019 was The Beatles’ Abbey Road. But that’s not to say that classic albums represent the entirety of the top 10 sellers for the year in LPs: also on that list was Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, the LP edition of which sold 176,000 copies.

Will this continue? The trend is clearly an upward one — though a Pitchfork article from last month on music distribution issues harming a number of record stores offers a cautionary note. But the vinyl boom certainly seems to be here to stay.

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