Vinyl Sets A New Record; Outsells CDs For The First Time Since 1987

11 January 2023 | 8:30 am | Mary Varvaris

You were right to start your own vinyl collection - supply is meeting demand.

Cottonmouth Records

Cottonmouth Records

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The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has unveiled stunning figures that show vinyl has outsold CDs for the first time in 35 years in the UK.

Music sales increased by nearly 3% in 2022 to almost £2 billion (AUD $3.5 billion), the highest number since 2003. The figure is almost double the lowest point of music sales in 2013.

The ERA did find that physical sales fell by 3.8% (to £280.4 million), but the consistent growth of vinyl sales kept overall music sales up as CD sales declined.

NME reports that “Vinyl album sales grew 11% to £150.5 million,” as CD album sales “fell 17.4% to £124 million”. The last time vinyl outsold CDs was in 1987.

The ERA also discovered that Harry Styles’ third album, Harry’s House, was the top-selling album of 2022 and the dancey first single, As It Was, obtained the title of biggest selling and streaming single of the year.

ERA CEO Kim Bayley commented, “We are approaching a watershed. Thanks to the investment and ingenuity of streaming services on the one hand and to the physical retailers who have driven the vinyl revival on the other, music is within sight of exceeding £2bn in retail sales value for the first time in more than two decades. Music has to be great to win people’s attention, but it’s the buying and consumption experience which ultimately persuades people to put their hands in their pockets.”

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Vinyl sales surpassed CDs in Australia in 2021, ARIA revealed.

With CD sales dropping in conjunction with the rise of vinyl figures, the two switched places in 2021, with vinyl accounting for the biggest segment in physical sales in Australia at $29.7 million, compared to $24.9 million for CD albums.

In 2020, CD album sales were at $30.5 million, slightly higher than vinyl at $29.3 million.

Going back to 2015, the difference between the two was huge: CDs at $77.7 million and vinyl at $18.8 million.

“The vinyl market is an increasingly important player as our market evolves, affording music fans across generations the opportunity to add classics to their collection, but also for fans of new music to have a greater sense of connection and ownership toward recordings they love,” ARIA Chief Executive Officer Annabelle Herd said.

She added, "It is an important sector for independent artists, DJs and emerging subcultures that deserves serious recognition.”

Overall, the 2021 figures showed the Australian recorded music industry hit a 15-year high, with wholesale sales posting a third consecutive year of growth and reaching their highest level since 2006. View more details here.