Vinyl and single track download sales set new records last week, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. The two events represent very different trends that were born from the rising popularity of digital music.

As of November 8, four artists broke Rihanna's single-year digital tracks sales record of 9.9 million tracks: Michael Jackson (11.3 million tracks year-to-date), Lady Gaga (11.1 million tracks year-to-date), Black Eyed Peas (10.3 million tracks year-to-date) and Taylor Swift (9.98 million tracks year-to-date). The top three artists have already topped 10 million tracks sold this year and one, Taylor Swift, will surely pass the mark next week. Next week, sales of digital albums should surpass last year's total of 65 million and sales of digital tracks should top the 1 billion mark.

Year-to-date vinyl record sales topped two million units last week, breaking the previous record of 1.9 million units last year. At the same point in time last year, SoundScan had tracked 1.5 million sales of vinyl records.

That's roughly a 37% year-over-year improvement. Vinyl has come a long way from the period in the '90s when it was a format that was almost exclusively used by underground rock bands and DJ-oriented genres. Many years passed when most artists - especially mainstream artists - did not have vinyl releases (many still do not have vinyl releases). Though it gained momentum towards the end of the decade, it wasn't until the mid-2000s when new releases of all stripes were being released on vinyl, when it was seen as a purer way to experience music in an era of near-ubiquitous digital music. Labels started offering MP3 downloads with vinyl purchases, thus creating a great digital-physical combination. Today, consumers can find vinyl in both mass merchants and the usual Independent stores.

The two trends - digital sales on one hand, vinyl records on the other - could not be more different. For all the efficiencies of digital music's distribution and supply chain, vinyl counters with an equally expensive and inefficient process. Yet, the two are on the rise.

There is no doubt digital formats represents the future of recorded music. iTunes is just the beginning. New types of digital services promise to change how consumers acquire and experience music. Yet the concurrent rise of digital and vinyl tells us this: Through their purchases of vinyl, a small yet dedicated group of music fans are showing artists and labels that digital does not fill all their needs.

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