Vinyl overtakes CD in the United States

According to the Recorded Industry Association of America’s year-end report, vinyl album sales have surpassed CD sales in 2022.

It took 35 years and a digital revolution that rocked the music industry, but for the first time since 1987, vinyl sales surpassed CD sales in the US last year. This figure confirms the dominance of vinyl in an increasingly irrelevant physical music market.

The feat is among the most notable statistics in the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2022 Year-End Report, released Thursday, with consumers purchasing 41 million units of vinyl last year, compared to 33 million CDs. For decades the idea that an older format like vinyl could top CD sales was absurd, but as the vinyl boom began thanks to many factors such as retro appeal and older album covers large and easier to collect, it eventually became more inevitable.

While vinyl just overtook CD in number of units, vinyl revenue itself has surpassed CD revenue since the RIAA’s 2020 report. According to the most recent report, with sales of $1.2 billion, vinyl now accounts for 70% of all physical music sales. Vinyl revenue rose 17% last year, while CD revenue (which saw an unusual rise in 2021 after the pandemic severely limited retail sales in 2020) fell again last year. last, by nearly 18%.

While vinyl’s continued growth is intriguing, streaming remains the financial engine of the music industry, accounting for 84% of all US recorded music revenue last year. Overall revenue continues to climb, rising 6% to $15.9 billion, a record, although the increase was modest from the prior year, when revenue rose 23%.

As in recent years, paid subscriptions remained by far the largest source of revenue, growing 8% last year to $10.2 billion. The average number of paid subscribers rose to 92 million in 2022, according to the RIAA report, from 84 million in 2021. Ad-supported streaming revenue – revenue from platforms like YouTube and the free version from Spotify – rose 6% to $1.8 billion. Revenue from digital downloads, meanwhile, continued to fall, as it has for several years, to $495 million, down 20% year-over-year.

2022 has been an impressive year of sustained growth, more than a decade after streaming exploded onto the music scenesaid Mitch Glazier, president and CEO of the RIAA, in a press release. In the continuity of this long journey, revenues from subscription streaming today represent two-thirds of the market, with a record figure of 13.3 billion dollars. This long success has only been possible thanks to the determined and creative work of record labels fighting to build a healthy streaming economy where artists and rights holders are paid where and when their work is used. »

Ethan Millman

Translated by the editor

Vinyl overtakes CD in the United States