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Vinyl sales to hit another high point in 2009


The resurgent vinyl market isn't showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, recent figures released by Nielsen SoundScan indicate that overall U.S. vinyl sales will once again set a benchmark in 2009, with sales up 50% through the first five months of the year. 

SoundScan predicts vinyl sales will reach 2.8 million units in 2009, up from 1.9 million in 2008, a record since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. Already in 2009, vinyl sales have topped 1 million. At this point last year, vinyl sales stood at 701,000 copies. To be fair, the number is still tiny compared to overall album sales. 

Vinyl, SoundScan points out, accounts for less than 1% of overall album sales. In other words, vinyl sales represent about six months in the life of Taylor Swift, whose late 2008 release, "Fearless," has already sold more than 3.3 million copies. To date in 2009, 121.8 million CDs have been sold, versus 33.2 million digital albums, compared to 151.01 million CDs and 27.52 digital albums for the same period last year.

Yet vinyl appears to be a niche market that's here to stay, and one that's showing signs of expansion. Rock albums account for 70% of all vinyl sold, but country vinyl is enjoying a growth spurt. Year-to-date country vinyl sales are already at 15,000 copies, compared with 5,000 for the comparable period in 2008.  

Of course, if someone wants to rain on the vinyl good news, there's this stat: Vinyl sales were up 90% in 2008 over 2007, and the rate of growth has certainly slowed. 

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Origami Vinyl in Echo Park. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Comments () | Archives (9)

2.8 million is not much to write home about but i guess anything with an increase is impressive these days. i'd be curious about the sales figures of usb-friendly turntables vs. vinyl sales.

Not surprised at how some things like Vinyl cover collection and DJ's spinning is in full effect.
A lot of the covers on 70's and 80's are collectables. Also, contrary to belief the threading and sound quality of albums is much better than CD's and Vinyl last much longer.

This isn't exactly a HUGE number, but I guess now that the media wants to say that cd sales are dying, it's nice to note.

I collect vinyl. I just do it...i'm weird.

These numbers can't be right. As a manufacturer of vinyl, we will produce well over a million units for the US market alone in 2009. I don't believe we represent over a third of the vinyl business in the US. Sound scan is always less than actual sales. 95% of our manufacturing is for major labels but there is still a ton of vinyl being produced by other companies. I would guess the actual numbers are 3-4x what this article states.

These sales numbers are way off as most independent retail stores selling vinyl and online shops do not use Nielsen Sound Scan at all. I'd say judging from the amount of vinyl being produced right now and how quickly many titles have sold out- that this actual sales numbers are considerably higher- probably two thirds higher. The comparable growth rates between 2008 and 2009 probably have more to do with manufacturing capacity than a slow down in market growth- all of the pressing plants are full.

I'll only be happy when I hear that mp3 sales start going downhill. That technology has killed music as we know it. Record shops have now gone the way of dinosaurs as a result of the convenience of buying (or stealing) music online. The last Virgin Megastore in the country closed today in NYC. For the last three years, it was the only major store chain devoted entirely to music after Tower Records went out of business in '06. Now the only places where you can buy an actual album are Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart. The experience of going to a record shop to buy a couple of albums and discuss your favorite music with other buyers and shop employees is gone. Everything is digital. But you can't have a face-to-face conversation with someone on iTunes or Rhapsody. You can't appreciate the artwork of an album cover when it's a tiny little square on your mp3 player. I'm not saying I regret the existence of the internet, because it has so many benefits, but like everything else, it has its pros and cons. Thank you, Shawn Fanning, for killing the music. You opened the floodgates for the way music is today. You may have thought that creating Napster was a blessing, but it was really a curse on music in general. A curse that I don't think will be broken anytime soon...

Sounds to me like "Spoon" is a troll for the RIAA.

Bottom line here, "Spoon", is that the recording industry and they alone are responsible for their own demise. They had an opportunity back when computer were becoming a basic household appliance, much like a fridge and stove, and yet they blatantly disregarded every indication that this was the wave of the future, so I have zero sympathy for the suits behind the major labels.

It's not a secret that bands like NIN and Radiohead proved that labels aren't needed to generate revenue and the best thing about their model is that they retain the lions share of that revenue as opposed to greaseball's like Mattola getting that share and giving the artists themselves the crumbs off the floor. Also no secret that many bands that once showed disdain for that model are now embracing it and not renewing their contracts with the major labels and I couldn't be happier.

I'm also in total agreement with those comments regarding the numbers are much greater than stated in the above article, as I know personally an independent record store owner and he doesn't have sound scan and the majority of his sale are strictly vinyl.

But as is the case with the industry as a whole, the RIAA will refuse to see this as a way to generate new streams of revenue and then blame society and everything and everyone else for their woes.

"And the recording industry STILL can't figure out why they're going bankrupt..."

thirteenburn, if I'm a "troll for the RIAA", then you're probably a troll for iTunes. You're missing the point of what I said. Yes, the record labels have caused their downfalls by being greedy, but they're not the ones suffering. Record shops are suffering. Artists are suffering, because instead of selling entire albums, they're selling individual songs, and after the record label, producers and management take their piece of the pie, the artist barely has enough to call it a real paycheck. Yes, Radiohead and NIN release their albums for free on the internet, but they've been releasing albums since the 90s, the last decade in which the music industry worked in its original format. They've made plenty of money, enough to retire on, so of course they can afford to give away their albums now. The same can't be said for up-and-coming artists of this generation. How do you propose they get compensated? And the internet age hasn't improved the state of music by any shot. Records today aren't selling because the quality of music is at an all-time low. Bands like Led Zeppelin didn't become huge because of marketing or selling their music on the internet. They became huge by word-of-mouth. Why? Because they made great music. Today, artists are too reliant on auto-tune and other computer programming for music. There's no creativity. No one is even attempting to try to make good music. They just do whatever sells. And the public has had enough. We've been in that phase since the late 90s, and now we're about to enter the second decade of the new millennium. Still nothing new. So of course nobody's buying records anymore. The music is so crappy, people would rather steal it than pay for it. Tell me, would you rather waste $15.00 on a Britney Spears album or would you rip it off LimeWire for free, where you'll have no regrets if you find that the album is, as usual, awful? NIN released their album in the same format as Radiohead; pay what you want, even nothing. Trent Reznor hoped that his fans would see this whole honor system thing he was doing, but they didn't. 85% of all downloads were made without contributing a penny for the album. Trent was sorely disappointed. And making an album is never for free, production costs have to be recouped by record sales. It's the people that are running record labels that have to change, not the way records are sold themselves. Because even those that embrace the internet as a means to sell music will be smart enough to find a new way to screw consumers and artists alike. And then what? What other new and innovative format will we be selling music through?

I'm happy to see that the vinyl record is doing well. I have never gave up on it, since the CD came out. I just could'nt stand the poor sound quality, I felt like I was listening to electronics and noise, not music. As a DJ, I still play with vinyl, and it brings a lot of curious people of all age to see the setup. Older baby boomer tell me often "I remember the sound". The people my age (25-30) find it "kool". Kid wounder what are those "big CD's". When I perform, people always notice how different it sounded or how they feel the music more than usually and are shock when I show them the turntable and the record. So yes, wheather you are an audiophile or total ignorant about sound-system and music, YOU DO SEE A DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY BEETWEN THE VINYL AND THE CD. The professional CD player and digital music player are also not as reliable than a turntable. There is too many electronic component and often "even very expensive CD player" have failled in my hand or displayed "disc error" during a show. My 20 year old Technics SL-1200 never failed on me. No matter how scratch the record is, they always play and always sound good. What I wish to stop seeing though, is the sale of those USB and IPOD compatible turntable... it defeath the purpose of listening to an analogue sound. On top of it, the quality of those turntable is so bad that the record cannot sound good. Than people will say "well I guess CD did'nt sound that bad after all" and I'm scared that it will kill the vinyl record industrie. A good brand new turntable does not go under 1000$. Wheather it's a Technics DJ turntable or a Rega for home listening. Be advise!


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