Vinyl Records Outsell CDs for the First Time Since the ’80s

However, as you might expect, streaming beat them both

record players at a record store in Seattle
Americans have been choosing old-school vinyl over CDs.
Mirta Fratnik/Unsplash

The music industry has been forced to grapple with unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, but we’ve finally got a sliver of good news for independent record store owners and fans of wax in general: for the first time in nearly 40 years, vinyl records have outsold CDs.

According to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as reported by CNN, vinyl records accounted for $231.1 million of music sales during the first six months of this year, while CDs only brought in $129.9 million during that same time period. The report notes that vinyl revenue as a whole was up by four percent during the first half of 2020, while CD sales seem to be declining steeply, dropping 48 percent.

Of course, while vinyl sales continue to grow, they’re still being dwarfed by streaming. Physical music sales as a whole dropped 23 percent to $376 million in the first half of the year, while streaming grew 12 percent to a whopping $4.8 billion — accounting for more than 85 percent of all music revenue.

According to the RIAA report, paid streaming service subscriptions like Spotify and Apple Music also increased by 24 percent.

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