Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images
Vinyl album sales surpassed CD sales last year for the first time since 1987, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s year-end report released Thursday.
This is the 16th consecutive year of vinyl growth, with 41 million albums sold, compared to 33 million CDs.
Streaming remains the primary driver of music industry growth, accounting for 84% of recorded music revenue, but physical music formats have seen a remarkable resurgence in the past two years.
Vinyl revenue grew 17% and topped $1.2 billion last year, accounting for nearly three-quarters of physical music revenue. At the same time, CD revenues fell 18% to $483 million, the RIAA said.
The pandemic has led to a surge in demand for vinyl records, driven largely by younger buyers. Vinyl has become a major part of artists’ marketing campaigns.
Artists like Adele and Taylor Swift made pop a fast-growing genre on vinyl, and many independent makers struggled to grow and keep up with demand after years of decline. This forced some bands to push back album releases and prevented smaller artists from being able to press records.
The recorded music industry’s fortunes began to improve in 2016 with the growth of streaming services, overcoming declining CD sales and online music piracy. Paid subscription services including Spotify and Apple Music brought in $10.2 billion from 92 million paying subscribers in 2022, topping $10 billion for the first time, according to the RIAA.
Ad-supported streaming, like YouTube, grossed $1.8 billion and accounted for 11% of recorded music revenue. Revenue from digital downloads, including albums and singles, fell 20% to $495 million.