Revenue from vinyl sales grew by 94% in the US during the first half of 2021, according to the latest mid-year report by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which shows sales of records jumped to a value of $467million.
However, it's important to note the comparison with 2020 is skewed as the previous year saw many physical shops shuttered for several months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Record Store Day — a key sales driver — was also delayed in 2020, losing its traditional spring dates in favour of smaller events later in the year.
The numbers back up an earlier report by MRC Data that showed 19.2million vinyl albums were sold between January and July 2021, a leap of 108% compared with the first half of 2020. Last winter it was reported that US vinyl sales had broken their all-time weekly record, with 1.445million units bought in the week between 11th - 17th December.
Overall, recorded music revenue in the US grew by 27% in the first six months of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020. Subscriptions to streaming platforms including Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music were the biggest contributors, accounting for almost two-thirds of overall income with more than 80million paid monthly accounts active in the country for the first time ever.
In comparison, digital downloads declined by 6% in revenue terms, dropping to just 5% of overall earnings. Individual tracks saw the biggest losses, plummeting 12% year on year.
During the pandemic staff shortages and bottlenecks at pressing plants have been among the problems facing the vinyl industry, as per DJ Mag's long-read on how the sector has survived the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, before the outbreak of COVID-19, we were asking if our vinyl obsession can ever be environmentally friendly.
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