Vinyl sales set to topple CDs for the first time since ‘86

The latest in a series of reports made by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) over the last two years continues to show that CD sales are declining three times as fast as vinyl sales are growing.

The findings have prompted predictions that by the end of the year, vinyl will outsell CDs for the first time since 1986.

Vinyl, Recording Industry Association of America
Photo: Emma Boey

Vinyl sales may be about to overtake CD sales for the first time since 1986, according to recent reports from the Recording Industry Association of America.

The latest mid-year report from the RIAA reveals that vinyl revenue grew by 12.8% in the last half of 2018, and by 12.9% in the first half of 2019, whilst CD revenue remained much the same. Vinyl sales are steadily catching up to that of CDs, with 8.6 million units of vinyl worth $224.1 million sold in the first half of 2019, compared with a 18.6 million units of CDs worth $247.9 million.

Despite this growth, vinyl sales still only accounted for 4 percent of total revenues in the industry during this time. Streaming services continue to prevail, with paid subscriptions to services like Spotify, digital radio services like Pandora, and ad-supported-on-demand services like YouTube, accounting for 62 percent of revenues.

Nevertheless, the resurgence in vinyl popularity has been particularly favourable for classic rock groups, with the Beatles selling over 300,000 records in 2018, and many artists releasing limited edition re-issues of classic albums to celebrate their anniversaries, like the recent re-issue of Oasis’s Definitely Maybe

There is currently only one dedicated vinyl pressing facility in the entirety of Australia, Zenith Records. Based in Brunswick East, Melbourne, their facility is capable of pulling off the entire vinyl pressing process, from start to finish, in-house – a feat not every pressing plant is capable of.

In a world where things are increasingly intangible, there is a certain charm to holding a record in your hands. It makes sense that even in an age characterised by the ubiquitous accessibility of streaming, the vinyl resurgence continues to grow. If you want to get on-board the vinyl train, check out our very own guide to getting your music pressed on vinyl.