vinyl records 2020

6 Reasons Why People are Buying Vinyl Records Again

Remember that girl from a famous nineties song who’s having the time of her life listening to her vinyl records?

Seems like we’ve all become like her in the last decade. Dancing and singing and squealing…just being in love with our vinyl records AGAIN. In fact, in 2019, vinyl is poised to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986 according to RIAA.

26% of All Physical Albums Sold in 2019 in U.S. Were Vinyl

Vinyl Records sales

Well that is probably due the fact that even though CD is still very much a thing, CD sales continued to drop (they fell 12% to $615 million in 2019). But vinyl continued its VICTORIOUS RETURN…

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According to RIAA, VINYL SALES was ballooning in 2019– a whopping 19% year-over-year to $504 million, the format’s highest revenues in 32 years and its 14th straight year of growth.

vinyl sales graph

CDs made up 5.5% of overall revenues, while vinyl accounted for 4.5%; the average list price of a CD dropped to $13.21 in 2019 from $13.43 in 2018, while vinyl averaged $26.05, a jump from $25.10 the year before.

It is very curious indeed how vinyl record pressing in Los Angeles has risen from the ashes when everyone expected it to go extinct!

Vinyl Records are back

Here at Unified, we are a happy witness to this grand phenomenon. Our vinyl orders are increasing every year since we started offering vinyl manufacturing in 2009.

We asked around and did a bit of digging for the possible reasons why we’re loving the vinyl again. Here are some of the things we gathered:

Sound Quality

vinyl versus CD

Vinyl has more peaks and valleys compared to the compressed digital form.

Music aficionados say you can hear the difference in sound and that vinyl is better than CD or digital files. People have been listening to MP3s for more than a decade and when they listen to vinyl records for the first time, they can tell there’s something slightly different with the sound quality. Here’s one vinyl lover explaining why he likes the vinyl experience:

“Records have a more omni-dimensional sound that really fills the room a lot better. LPs sound warmer, and you are more likely to notice subtle sounds and instruments” according to Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Music & Movies in Gainesville, Florida.

Vinyls pressed today sound better than those pressed in the 60s.  This is because the original recordings are now digital rather than lower quality tape masters. The recording equipment used today is far more advanced as well.

Surface Noise

vinyl surface noise

Part of the vinyl experience is the hum of the needle along the record grooves and the occasional crackling sound. Romantic, poetic, artistic people love this add-on. It adds texture to the whole experience.

Nostalgia

music nostalgia

Those who are from the sixties and seventies miss the way they listen to music. Although digital music is portable and very convenient, they still like experiencing music in their living rooms. Digital music will never die, but it seems like we can say the same thing to Vinyl records.

Tactile Experience

vinyl record tactile experience

Some music lovers feel like MP3s make them lose out on any sort of physical interaction with the music they are listening to. It’s just music and nothing more. Everyone can have it, it can be shared, it’s free. But there are some people who like EXPERIENCING music. The experience of opening the wrapper, smelling the sleeve, actually touching the record are what most people pay for when they buy vinyl records.

Collectible

vinyl record collection

Vinyl record sleeves are nice to look at. They have more aesthetic appeal compared to CDs or tapes. A shelf full of vinyl record have more impact compared to a shelf full of CDs or a media player with billions of music files. Some people even buy vinyl records just because they love the packaging.

Valuable

sell vinyl records

Of all the music formats, vinyl has the most value. Vinyl records today might sell 10 times its original price 20 years from now. I do not think the case would be the same with CDs, or tapes, or digital files (snort!). Vinyl records in itself is more aesthetically appealing and more artistic and is therefore more valuable. Here’s proof that the aesthetics of the vinyl packaging affects sales.

TOP SELLING VINYL LPS OF 2019

#1 The Beatles- Abbey Road (246 thousand copies)

The Beatles vinyl

#2 Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go (176 thousand copies)

Billie Eilish vinyl

#3 Queen- Greatest Hits (139 thousand copies)

Vinyl Records, 6 Reasons Why People are Buying Vinyl Records Again

#4 Soundtrack- Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (123 thousand copies)

Guardians of the Galaxy vinyl

#5 Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody (108 thousand copies)

Vinyl Records, 6 Reasons Why People are Buying Vinyl Records Again

#6 Beach Boys- Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys (107 thousand copies)

Beach Boys vinyl

#7 Pink Floyd- The Dark Side of the Moon (92 thousand copies)

Vinyl Records, 6 Reasons Why People are Buying Vinyl Records Again

#8 Michael Jackson- Thriller (88 thousand copies)

vinyl record Michael Jackson- Thriller

#9 Bob Marley and The Wailers- Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers (84 thousand copies)

bob marley vinyl record

#10 Fleetwood Mac- Rumours (78 thousand copies)

Fleetwood Mac- Rumours vinyl

If you’re a musician and you’re thinking “well, well, well…of course they make records because they’re famous!”, but allow me to tell you that we’ve made vinyl records for a ton of musicians and they’re always sold out! So it seems like vinyl will never be out of style…in fact, you’re IN STYLE if you buy vinyl records, more so if you’re a musician and you make them.

Do you own vinyl records? What do you love about them?

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James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.

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23 Replies to “6 Reasons Why People are Buying Vinyl Records Again

  1. I grew up with records nobody called them vinyl the hipster word used today. The big artwork and listening to the whole albums led to finding great songs not on the radio. People listened to the music back then they weren’t surfing their phone for bs. The crackling will always suck, and I was so excited when the cd came out in the 1980s. The smaller the MP3 file the more the music suffers. You can pay a little extra and get lossless MP3 that have more dynamic range than standard cds are capable off. In my opinion burning and MP3 at 128 is flat and sucks. I do a minimum of 320, and lossless for more dynamic music. lossless sounds better than any record. Records aren’t capable of the dynamic range of cds and lossless mp3s. If people want to pay double and stroke their bad beards go for it.

  2. Opinions, opinions, opinions. Tha’s what everyone is espousing. There is no “better” sounding format. It’s all about preference.
    Too be honest, I enjoy both. It all depends on the type of music.
    If I want to listen to some Techno music, digital is the only way(in my opinion), but if I want to listen to some folk music, it’s going to sound best from a vinyl record(again, my opinion).

  3. I guess we can go for Vinyls for those albums that we really missed during 80’s and 90’s. For the pure quality from direct recording studio.
    Please suggest if i am wrong.

  4. I am so tired of listening to over compressed digital music. So with that said, I went out and purchased a new turntable to play my old records and new records on. There is definitely a difference. And for those that say that they can share Music with friends. Well, that’s coming to an end. Because CDs and DVDs and Blu-ray’s and Encoded with the highest anti copy technology to prevent sharing and copying. So far, the technology has not been applied to vinyl. Whether It can or not that’s the question.

    People are talking about records popping snapping crackling. Have we forgot the CDs skip too.

  5. Who walks around with a turn table record player to play at a back yard BBQ and can play one record at a time and the sound quality fades after the first play vinyl records that has been played in the 60s 70s 80s sound horrible because people never took care of them .the trouble of anti skating and blancing the tone arm changing the needle and cartridge and you need a pricey turntable let’s not forget the surface noise ticks and pops the not hearing clean music it’s hearing bad audio. Nothing beats hi end digital sound which is portable and small unit which holds thousands of records which is a dream come true and a miracle. Thank u Steve jobs, Sony, and Phillips for being having a vision to all music lovers around the world to hear static free no more ticks and pops and making it portable to bring and anywhere in the world and after thousands of player sounds exactly the same as the first play and I play my music from a hi end 80s boombox how lucky am I . And vinyl will never sound as good as hi end digital music

  6. It caught my eye that vinyl records today might sell 10 times its original price 20 years from now! My dad has a record collection and we used to listen to songs all day during the summer. I might be able to convince to sell some to some collectors!

  7. I agree that vinyl CDs still make for a great experience and have a collectible quality to them. I don’t own a record player or any vinyl CDs, but I can definitely agree that the idea is very appealing. I might try getting some one of these days!

  8. For me, something recorded AAD is the best (and I consider myself a fairly good judge of music being a 30 year musician and teacher myself). The crackle and hum of records is simply annoying to me and hassle of putting on a record….no thanks.

  9. As a record production professional with roots established as a recording engineer at the World Class level, I can attest to the quality of professional-level digital recording. However, it should be pointed out that master mix-downs, post console, are typically recorded to 1/2″ reel-to-reel analog tape before, then, being mastered for mass production. Analog tape can be pushed to levels of saturation that give a mix a truly beautiful sonic quality vs digital dBfs. In fact, often times, drums and bass guitar are multi-tracked using analog tape machines like the 24 track, 2″ reel-to-reel Studer A827 before being for this same reason, before the tracks are transferred to a digital format I believe it is this unique quality of natural level saturation and compression just before a peak level that translates best on vinyl — over any other format.

    I say this with the caveat that only a true hi-fidelidity, so-to-speak, vinyl system is essential. Until recent years, I had not heard a system set up purely for vinyl. It was put together by another colleague of mine for his home. Vinyl systems are a tight niche— this friend drools over his next $400 stylus upgrade!
    (this is an extreme example, but I think I made my point).

    A special thanks to Sarah and her team for providing this thread!

  10. To sound its best the vinyl master plates need to be cut in the correct material. Copper plates DMM are better sound quality but Acetate is better for stuff with a really heavy bassline . Any use of a digital source as an original to master from will also make the vinyl sound worse as due to the way digital audio reproduction works it is impossible for it sound as good as analogue. DAT was a dreadful screechy sounding medium and used widely in the 90’s to cut from.

  11. ugh… I really shouldn’t be getting involved here, but here’s my 6 point rebuttal:
    1: Sound Quality – The author makes the peculiar mistake of comparing vinyl to mp3s, not high quality FLACs, which are obviously the best format to listen to anything in. Any difference in sound quality comes from a mastering difference. The sub-point about recording equipment being better now is dumb because obviously that applies to all formats.
    2: Surface Noise – can fuck off. Seriously, I don’t want anything in my music other than the music. If you crave these pops and clicks so badly you can’t be helped.
    3: Nostalgia – Is nothing to do with music, get over it. The point is made that vinyl will never die because of this, but obviously the original nostalgic vinyl buying crowd WILL die! what a terrible point.
    4: Tactile Experience – As the author states, is nothing to do with the actual music, which is the thing I want music for.
    5: Collectible – So what? “A shelf full of vinyl has more impact”… poser – personally I’d much prefer an exquisitely organised digital collection which is fully backed up and I can share with my friends, the quality never fading. If you care about the packaging so much, buy a poster or something – or yes – buy the vinyl and put it on your wall, but this is nothing to do with the actual vinyl being better is it?
    6: Valuable – invalid point=0.

  12. People buying vinyl records are just like Apple fans: they do it because they are posers. Vinyl is not better than CD as much as Apple is not better than Android or PC. It’s just falling in the trap that marketing has placed in front of them. They think their choices are better because they are pricier. In facts, they are more mainstream than ever.

  13. Seriously abbey rd? Goddamn people need to get over the beatles hype. THEY WEREN’T THAT GOOD!!!!! Pet Sounds beats the hell out of any beatles tripe.

  14. My family thinks I’m crazy and addicted because I love having that record and I love having that experience, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for putting my feelings into words!

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