If the trend keeps, wax could outsell jewel cases for the first time since 1986.
Don’t look now, but vinyl could reclaim the crown for physical album sales by the end of this year.
In February, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) published a year-end report on US album sales for 2018 that noted the sustained growth of the vinyl market — now comprising a third of total physical sales — hitting a 30-year high with an 8% spike from the previous year’s sales. Meanwhile, CD sales had shrunk at a rate three times faster than vinyl’s rise during the same period. And if the RIAA’s mid-year check-in is any indication, jewel cases could be down for the count.
Published on Thursday, the new report finds vinyl on pace to surpass CD revenue by the end of the year. Should it pull ahead, it would be the first time since 1986 — just a few years after the mid-sized format’s global launch — CDs fell short of vinyl in total physical sales. In the first half of 2019 alone, records are up 12.9%, generating $224.1 million on 8.6 million units, which trails a stagnant CD market that’s generated $247.9 million on 18.6 million units in the first six months of the year.
And while vinyl’s gains have been substantial over the last half-decade, streaming subscriptions, of course, continue to dominate the market. Streams account for 80% (or $3.3 billion) of total album sales in 2019 so far, towering over the 9% slice for physical sales in the same period.