Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vinyl Sales Up: A Happy Coexistence for Digital and Physical Media?

Even though we are in the midst of an increasingly digitalized age, there are encouraging signs that people still have some nostalgia for physical media. While the cd is undoubtedly losing ground to digital albums -- which, I think, is a travesty -- there is a glimmer of hope that vinyls will be around for a while.

According to a recent New York Times article, more than 2.1 million vinyls have been sold in 2009 thusfar -- which is a 35% increase from last year. This is much more modest than the growth from 2007 to 2008, in which vinyl sales went up 90%, but its still growth. Obviously, CD sales and digital music still dominate. Through June of this year, 121.8 million CDs were sold, versus 33.2 million digital albums, and just over 1 million vinyls.

Yet, even though vinyl sales only account for less than 1% of overall album sales, there is reason to optimistic. CD sales are falling dramatically (20% compared to digital albums this year), while vinyl sales have continually been on the rise. This means that even though 99% of people might eventually buy digital albums, there is a solidifying niche market of 1% or more to keep vinyls alive.

As a commenter in the NY Times article said: “It is absolutely easy to say vinyl doesn’t make sense when you look at convenience, portability, all those things . . . But all the really great stuff in our lives comes from a root of passion or love.”

Well put.

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