Variety reports that "in the first half of 2023, vinyl LP sales were up 21.7% from the same period the year before, a robust vote of confidence for the format that has dominated album sales in recent years."
It is, the story suggests, an indication that "the vinyl boom is not going bust anytime soon." The data comes from Luminate’s Midyear Music Report.
Here's how the story frames the increase:
"That the vinyl format would be experiencing some kind of growth is not a surprise in and of itself is not a surprise. After all, 2022 marked the 17th consecutive year that vinyl saw a rise, so it was perhaps inevitable that 2023 would keep the streak going.
"Yet the whopping growth rate over the last six months is reassuring after, last year at this time, Luminate’s study showed the format had then only risen by 1%, leading some to believe the market had found its natural plateau after explosive bursts of quarantine buying that caused a 108% increase in 2021. This latest uptick is proving that a raging pandemic isn’t required for the avid interest in LPs to expand further still."
Variety writes that total physical album sales in the US "were up 13.3%, including CDs and cassettes as well as vinyl. Compact discs saw a 3.8% increase - a sign of life for a format many long since pronounced dead. Cassettes, which represents a niche collectors’ market at this point (with a total of 212,000 units for the year’s first half), rose 5.8%. Overall album sales increased by 7.9%, with the big vinyl boost counterbalanced by still-diminishing returns for paid digital downloads.
"One finding in Luminate’s study is that direct-to-consumer sales are on the rise, with artists finding bigger audiences of fans who want to order product from their own websites. D2C vinyl sales were up even more than the overall LP picture, with a 26% boost. In the first half of the year, one out of every nine pieces of vinyl sold came from a director-to-consumer website."
Streaming growth, however, continues to dominate: On-demand audio and video streaming is up by 15% in the U.S. so far this year, and more than 30 percent globally.
- KC's View:
Remarkable. There is a bit of nostalgia driving some of this growth, but I also think that a lot of folks are buying into the idea that sound quality is better from vinyl, and so they're making the investment. Quality can be a powerful motivator, and sometimes it makes sense not to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Which is a point I've been making to food retailers for years. Differentiation requires a willingness not to pander, but to cater to and even nurture customers' aspirations.