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
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…
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.
CDs made up 5.5% of overall revenues, while vinyl accounted for 4.5%; 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 has risen from the ashes when everyone expected it to go extinct!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
#2 Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go (176 thousand copies)
#3 Queen- Greatest Hits (139 thousand copies)
#4 Soundtrack- Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (123 thousand copies)
#5 Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody (108 thousand copies)
#6 Beach Boys- Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys (107 thousand copies)
#7 Pink Floyd- The Dark Side of the Moon (92 thousand copies)
#8 Michael Jackson- Thriller (88 thousand copies)
#9 Bob Marley and The Wailers- Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers (84 thousand copies)
#10 Fleetwood Mac- Rumours (78 thousand copies)
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?
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.