Now that CDs are slowly becoming extinct thanks to Spotify and other streaming services, are custom vinyl records rising from the ashes?
Vinyl was first overshadowed by tapes and then by CDs because these digital formats were much easier to access and therefore more convenient and much cheaper. And later in the millennium era, CDs were slowly being replaced by digital music distributions like digital downloads and streaming services. However, in the year 2007 vinyl slightly increased in sales, which somehow signified its comeback. As the early 2010s came, vinyl suddenly rose at a very rapid rate.
And since there is a growing demand for vinyl, both from collectors and casual music fans, record shops are somehow rising too. There are currently 2,000 independently owned stores currently operating in the US which helps in the annual production of vinyl that reaches an estimated 50 million vinyl.
In the US vinyl sales have been constantly and rapidly growing in the past 12 years starting from 2006 up to 2017. According to Neilsen Music, vinyl sales climbed to 9 percent last year against a record-high 14.3 million albums. This signaled some people to conclude that it was already the end of the vinyl comeback. However, a newer data tracker recorded a different one. BuzzAngle Music tabulated that the sales were up to 20 percent but only totaling 8.6 million. Both eBay and Discogs also showed a double-digit rise in sales. In other places, vinyl sales also soared. Twenty-seven percent and Twenty-two percent increase in vinyl sales were recorded for the UK and Canada respectively.
According to what Rosenblatt said in Forbes, reported vinyl sales were not very accurate because they overlook used vinyl sales and undercount new vinyl sales. Due to the revenues of used vinyl sales not benefitting record labels, artists, or songwriters, the music industry does not mind counting the sales for used vinyl. Discogs and eBay have a long list of used vinyl available. Discogs has 5.7 million used vinyl items in its marketplace from its US sellers while eBay has 2.3 million used vinyl items from US sellers. Amazon, which goes next to eBay, has 900, 000 used vinyl items on its US site. These online shops sell millions of custom vinyl records annually. When the sales were added, a conclusion was made about how the overall vinyl market sales were more than double than the RIAA figures reported in the year 2017. However, it is far bigger than that, because tons of new vinyl sales are not reported. Many indie retailers do not bother reporting their sales data. If most of the 1,000 indie retailers don’t report their sales, that will be about one-third of the retail sales of new vinyl not being reported. This means that new vinyl sales may have been 50% higher than the RIAA figures. Therefore, the true total size of the vinyl market in unit volume, with new and old added together, is 2.5 times more than the reported RIAA figure.
Why are custom vinyl records making a comeback?
Well, for so many reasons! Check out our theories here. It’s fun to collect them especially when you’re a music lover. It’s the OG and don’t you just love the more elaborate custom vinyl record covers today? Vinyl is somehow more personal in comparison to digital music. It requires your attention like a lover who pouts and says “Come stay with me, don’t do anything else.” You need to be with it in the same room. Also, you can’t let it spin off, you have to flip it over to let it continue playing.
With the statistics shown above, one thing is clear: Vinyl records are indeed making a comeback…for over a decade now. And with its comeback, vinyl record stores’ business are booming. If you’re a musician and are planning on making your vinyl, you don’t have to go too far for here at Unified Manufacturing we offer vinyl pressing. We can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with both our service and product. Get a quote now.
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.