The Return of the Vinyl Record

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It’s been called the most improbable comeback of the 21st century. Yes…vinyl records have become the rage again.’

Here are some interesting facts and figures regarding sales of vinyl records in recent times.

The top selling new vinyl album in 2019 was….Abbey Road by the Beatles. It sold 246,000 copies on vinyl. Second most was Billie Eilish’s When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go, which sold 176,000 vinyl copies. The best seller in 2020 was Fine Line by Harry Styles, with 232,000 copies sold. Other artists with sales greater than 100,000 copies in 2020 included Queen, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and Kendrick Lamar. In June 2021, Taylor Swift’s Evermore album sold 102,000 vinyl copies in a single week. All this shows that both new and old music is popular in the new vinyl format.

In 2021, vinyl album sales grew by 61% compared to 2020, and sales have increased for 16 consecutive years. A total of 41.7 million vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. in 2021 – a 45-fold increase compared to 2006, when vinyl sales first began to increase.

Adele’s album 30 was released in November 2021. Her record label Sony Music ordered 500,000 copies of the album to be sold in the vinyl format. The order was so large, it put a squeeze on the vinyl supply chain. And the number of factories that can make a vinyl record is limited, so Adele was forced to start producing the album six months in advance of the release date. By the end of 2021, 318,000 units were sold in the U.S. – the best selling vinyl album of 2021. But the queen of vinyl in 2021 was Taylor Swift – she had three of the top ten vinyl albums of the year (Red – Taylor’s Version, Evermore and Folklore), racking up unit sales of over 700,000 albums.

Currently, more than 60% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 own a record player. And of those that own a record player, more than 70% say that they have used it to listen to music in the last thirty days.

Artists LOVE to sell on vinyl – an artist would have to get 450,000 streams in order to match the profit of selling just 100 vinyl records.

And…the sale of used vinyl albums also is accelerating. An old friend of mine recently retired. On a whim, he bought some old records at garage sales and started selling them on eBay. He had so much success, he greatly expanded his efforts. In 2021, his sales of records on eBay was nearly $50,000. He regularly ships 20 or more albums a day to people all of the country. He rates the value of albums by the artist – in his words, “Grateful Dead is a ten, Jim Nabors is a one, and everyone else is somewhere in between.”

Watch Adele’s video of Easy On Me from her 30 album – the best selling vinyl album of 2021. Sorry you can’t put this stream on your record player though!




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