Vinyl Sales Top CDs For The First Time Since 1986

The Recording Industry Association of America just released its report on the first half of 2020, and as Bloomberg points out, it contains a hell of a stat: For the first time since 1986, vinyl records are outselling CDs.

According to the RIAA’s report, vinyl sales accounted for $232.1 million in the first six months of the year, compared to only $129.9 in CD sales. The latter total represents a 48% decline, perhaps due to people staying home during the ongoing pandemic. Presumably for related reasons, physical sales are down overall by 23%. However, as Billboard points out, the first of several Record Store Day “drops” recently resulted in the biggest vinyl sales week of the year, with 802,000 records sold in the week ending Sept. 3, so perhaps with some COVID restrictions lifted, physical media is bouncing back slightly in the second half of 2020.

Surprisingly, overall music industry revenue increased by 5.6%, totaling $5.7 billion in the first two quarters of the year. The RIAA attributes this to 24% growth in paid streaming service subscriptions and a 14% increase in streaming revenue, up to $4.8 billion. In fact, streaming accounted for 85% of total revenue from January to June. Ad-supported streaming increased by 3% to $421 million, but that sector had been growing by double-digit percentages in prior years, a pace derailed by pandemic-related advertising declines. Digital sales, meanwhile, continue to decrease in the streaming era — at $351 million, they’re down 22% compared to the same timeframe last year.

The full report is available to peruse here.