Not only is vinyl very much alive, but it’s also stronger than ever before. We are reaching the end of the year and statistics show that 2020 has been the best vinyl sales year in the last three decades in the UK, with sales close to hitting the £100 million mark. There are a number of important and surprising facts that need to be underlined.
Mid-year reports by Discogs and the Recording Industry Alliance of America have indicated a resurgence of US vinyl sales and data from The Guardian suggests that the volume UK vinyl sales grew by nearly 10% more than in 2019, with figures going from £4.3 million to £100 million. This mark has not been reached since 1990 when Sinéad O’Connor and New Kids on the Block topped the charts.
This fantastic trend is notable, as the physical music market dipped by nearly half in April when the first UK lockdown shut down high street stores. The first signs of this year’s growing vinyl sales came when record stores opened in June, for the first time since lockdown. And what is the reason for this quest for vinyl? It seems that due to the lack of parties and festivals, music lovers have channelled their investments into the acquisition of music, especially vinyl. Fans and artists took advantage of the free time brought about by the pandemic to complete their collections and to acquire the vinyl they always wanted. As people were forced to spend more time at home, they valued other ways of consuming music. Quality, touch and experience gained importance and turntables were rescued from attics. The silence of quarantine has been replaced by that beautiful crackle noise from pressing blemishes and dirt, the comforting warm sound of analogue music. Mainstream artists have also been heading to wax in recent years, contributing to the steady growth of vinyl sales.
Drew Hill, managing director of Proper Music, the UK’s largest independent distributor of vinyl and CDs, told to The Guardian:
“We have seen 250% growth from the bottom of lockdown to where we are now (…) I thought it could be catastrophic for the industry but during lockdown the kind of people buying records also probably went to a lot of gigs. They can’t do that so it seems fans are spending the money they used to on going to gigs each month on records.”
The renewed interest in physical formats is not exclusive to vinyl. Cassette sales have also increased by 85% so far this year. As for CDs, their sale has not kept pace with the same growth.
Recently, the legendary Tower Records chain has made a comeback as an online store, making it even easier for us to get our favourite music formats.
Top-selling vinyl albums of 2020 so far (Entertainment Retailers Association)
- (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? – Oasis (Sony Music)
- Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (Warner Music)
- Back to Black – Amy Winehouse (Universal Music)
- Nevermind – Nirvana (Universal Music)
- Ultra Mono – Idles (Partisan)
- Fine Line – Harry Styles (Sony Music)
- MTV Unplugged – Liam Gallagher (Warner Music)
- Disco – Kylie Minogue (BMG)
- Chromatica – Lady Gaga (Universal Music)
- Greatest Hits – Queen (Universal Music)
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