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How 2020 Vinyl Sales Broke the Record

Last year, vinyl records outsold CD albums in the U.S. for the first time since 1986.

According to the RIAA’s new year-end report, Vinyl EPs and LPs produced $619.6 million in revenue in 2020-- $136 million more than the total income from CD albums ($483.3 million).

RIAA data shows that 31.6 million CD albums and 22.9 vinyl EPs/LPs were sold-- a greater volume of physical CDs than vinyl albums. That being said, vinyl records are often more expensive than CDs, so fewer purchases are needed to generate the same revenue.

Closures of retail stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a role the 23.4% drop in CD sales last year, yet entertainment and aesthetic value led to a 29.2% increase in vinyl album sales in 2020, surpassing annual earnings from CD sales.

The massive increase in vinyl sales and physical music video purchases softened the blow to total physical music revenue majorly, with only a 0.5% decline ($1.139 billion), despite large scale lockdowns.

Although vinyl records have seen a dramatic surge of re-popularization, physical music still makes up only 9% of overall revenues in 2020; Streaming generated 83% ($10.1 billion) of total sales ($12.2 billion) last year.

According to several sources, the most sold vinyl albums last year included Fine Line by Harry Styles, When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? by Billie Eilish, Queen's Greatest Hits, and Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

Are vinyl records making a comeback? Let us know what you think.


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