Americans buying more vinyl than CDs for first time in decades

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 05: Vinyl records are displayed in a store  in New York City. (Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Vinyl records continued to translate their retro appeal into a steady resurgence, outselling compact discs last year in terms of units in the United States for the first time since 1987.

Revenues from the sale of physical records jumped four percent in 2022 to $1.7 billion, according to the latest report from the Recording Industry Association of America released Thursday.

Consumers snagged 41 million vinyl units last year compared to 33 million CDs, an eye-popping reversal of trends.

Vinyl’s popularity has grown steadily in recent years, fueled by collectors and fans nostalgic for the warm crackle that emanates from Side A and Side B.

Revenue from physical records had already started surpassing CDs as of the 2020 report, but this is the first time in more than three decades that more vinyl units were sold than their compact counterparts.

Still, streaming remains king: services including paid subscriptions and ad-supported platforms grew seven percent to reach a record high $13.3 billion in revenue, accounting for 84 percent of the total.

Paid subscriptions comprise the lion’s share, accounting for 77 percent of streaming revenues and exceeding $10 billion for the first time.

The RIAA said 92 million people are now paid subscribers of a streaming service, up from 84 million the year prior.

Total record music revenues grew for the seventh consecutive year, according to the RIAA, up six percent to a record high $15.9 billion.