U.S. Vinyl Album Sales Up by 53% in Q1

Vinyl Record Player
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The vinyl comeback story just keeps on spinning.

New research published just in time for Record Store Day drives home the point: vinyl has been on a real tear over the past half-decade, and the purple patch isn't fading just yet. 

According to Nielsen, U.S. album sales between January and March of this year were 53% higher than during the comparable period last year, driven largely by solid gains in catalog album sales. Current releases in the format are also performing well, up by 37% in the first three months compared with the corresponding period last time.

In a wider-angle look at the market, vinyl album sales have grown by 260% since 2009, Nielsen reports, with vinyl unit sales rising to 9.2 million last year, up from 6.1 million in 2013. Check out the graph below.

The best-known band in the history of music has had the best-selling vinyl album since 2010, the Beatles classic 1969 release Abbey Road. Nielsen’s top 10 reveals there’s “something in the mix for everyone,” with recordings from Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Pink Floyd, Lana Del Rey and Miles Davis appearing. See the list below. 

Vinyl remains a niche part of the market, and no-one is saying the old-school format is the saviour of the industry, artists and for entertainment retailers. Consider it a feel-good story in a time when technology and digital streaming models dominate talk on the future of music distribution.

The Resurgence of Vinyl in Seven Graphics: A Breakdown

The IFPI confirmed as much when the trade body published its Digital Music Report earlier in the week. Vinyl sales currently account for “only a small fraction of the overall industry revenues” at around 2%, the IFPI explained, but the format has seen a steady increase, including a 54% jump in 2014. Trade revenue generated by the global recorded music industry in 2014 fell by 0.4 percent to $14.97 billion.

In March, the RIAA noted that vinyl had contributed $320.8 million in revenue in the U.S. last year, 50% up from the $213.7 million generated in 2013.

Vinyl Sales Charts Launch in U.K.

The U.S. gains in vinyl corresponds with similar spikes reported elsewhere. In the U.K., the industry's official charts compiler has just launched vinyl sales charts (singles and albums) which the OCC says reflects Britain’s “renewed interest in music on vinyl."

For the full year 2014, more than 1.28 million vinyl LPs were sold across the U.K., a figure which hadn’t been reached since 1995 when 1.41 million LPs were sold.

Billboard’s Top Vinyl Chart (from week 1, 2010 to week 12, 2015)
1. Beatles, “Abbey Road” (172,000 units)
2. Mumford & Sons, “Sigh No More” (110,000)
3. Bon Iver, “For Emma Forever Ago” (102,000)
4. Jack White, “Lazaretto” (94,000)
5. Arctic Monkeys, “AM” (89,000)
6. Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon” (87,000)
7. Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Legend” (83,000)
8. Lana Del Rey, “Born To Die” (81,000)
9. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue” (75,000)
10. Black Keys, “Brothers” (75,000)