Vinyl records have long been living a second youth. The physical format that dominated the industry for decades was cornered by the power of the CD first and the digital formats later, but in recent years it has returned with force.
This is demonstrated by a convincing fact: in the first quarter of 2020 more vinyl records than CDs have been sold in the United States, something that had not happened since 1986. The RIAA data reveals how in the first six months of the year U.S. users spent $232.1 million on vinyl records, leaving behind $129.9 million spent on CDs – almost half.
This is extraordinary considering that we are talking about a format that had its clear boom in the 70s and early 80s. Cassettes were a convenient and cheap alternative, but it was the CD first and the downloads and streaming later that totally ended its prominence.
However, in recent years we have seen how vinyl records have been resurfacing with more and more force. In 2005 the income from the sales of these discs touched the ground and was only 14.2 million dollars in the United States, but since then that income has been rising: users value the characteristic sound and the charm of these discs compared to CDs and music downloading or streaming services.
Sales, explained the RIAA, have fallen in these first months of the year due to COVID-19: confinement has prevented visits to centers where these physical formats were sold, and for example CD sales fell by 48% in that first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Streaming is still the king in this industry: 85% of revenues come from these platforms.