U.K. Vinyl Sales Cross 1 Million Sales Barrier for First Time In Almost 20 Years

Vinyl, 2014.
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A person searches through a collection of vinyl records.

Vinyl sales continue their ascent, thanks to assists from David Bowie and Pink Floyd.

New releases by David Bowie and Pink Floyd have helped push vinyl sales in the United Kingdom over the 1 million mark for the first time since the mid-nineties, according to Official Charts Company data, released by labels trade body BPI. 

The milestone was achieved at the weekend with the year-end figure expected to rise to around 1.2 million unit sales -- a level of vinyl consumption not seen since 1996, when 1.1 million LPs were purchased and Fugees' The Score was the year's best-selling vinyl album. Last year, 780,674 vinyl albums were sold in the U.K. with Arctic Monkeys' AM the biggest-selling vinyl release.

AM is also this year’s best-selling vinyl album, followed by Jack White’s Lazaretto, although the current incumbent of the No. 1 spot on the weekly Official Vinyl Chart is David Bowie with his new best of collection, fittingly titled Nothing Has Changed. It replaces last week’s No. 1, Pink Floyd’s The Endless River, which sold over 6,000 vinyl copies in its first week of release -- the highest of any LP since 1997 and therefore the fastest-selling vinyl album this century. 

“In scoring the biggest opening week for a vinyl album this millennium, Pink Floyd’s The Endless River illustrates the British public’s renewed love for this format,” said Official Charts chief executive, Martin Talbot in a statement.  He went on to say that vinyl sales this year are on course to become a £20 million ($31 million) business. “An incredible turnaround from barely £3 million ($4.7 million) just five years ago.” 

Despite a fivefold increase in vinyl sales since 2009, the format is still very much a niche product and accounts for just 2% of the U.K.’s recorded music market. Streaming, by comparison, now occupies a 10% market share. 

“We have entered an exciting best-of-all-worlds era where there is space and scope for all kinds of music to be discovered and enjoyed in every type of way, including on vinyl once again,” commented BPI spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo, adding: “Many of us assumed it had become an obsolete format, but while the flame may have flickered, it never quite went out, and we are now seeing a burgeoning resurgence in demand.”