While CD sales continue to decline, vinyl is still experience a renaissance: 89 percent more LPs were sold last year than in ‘07. Part of the leap can be attributed to Capitol Records’ decision to reissue many of their most famous albums on vinyl, as the Beatles’ Abbey Road was the year’s second-highest-selling vinyl album, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon ranked seventh and Radiohead’s OK Computer rounded out the Top 10. Radiohead’s In Rainbows, an album that began its career as a free download, was 2008’s biggest vinyl seller, a position that was no doubt aided by the fact that the album came out on January 1st of last year and therefore had plenty of time on shelves.
Other shockers: Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 classic In The Aeroplane Over the Sea came in sixth, ahead of Dark Side, Fleet Foxes and Metallica’s Death Magnetic. Guns n’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy, while struggling to sell CDs, sold enough vinyls to place third on the Top 10 list. But the biggest surprise: The B-52’s’ new album Funplex was the year’s fourth best-selling record as it bridged the gap between people who probably owned record players decades ago and the new class of vinyl buyers.
As we examined back in June in our “Vinyl Returns” feature, the death of the CD and the influx of the MP3 — with its varying degrees of less-than-CD-quality sound — have opened the door for vinyl to be relevant again. Plus, the artwork for Aeroplane looks so much better on a larger canvas. In all, the number of records sold last year leapt from 988,000 in ‘07 to 1.88 million in ‘08. Still, the sales from vinyl only made up 0.1 percent of the music sales in 2008, a year that saw a 14 percent decrease across the board.