Chart Beat

Record Store Day 2021's First Drop Sparks 1.3 Million in U.S. Vinyl Album Sales

KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Plus: The U.S.' top-selling Record Store Day-exclusive albums and singles at independent record stores.

UPDATE: This story was revised on June 23 to reflect restated sales figures from MRC Data for the week ending June 17.

Record Store Day 2021’s first drop, held on June 12, helped sell 1.279 million vinyl albums in the U.S. in the week ending June 17, according to MRC Data. That’s a record for a Record Store Day week and the third-largest week for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began electronically tracking sales in 1991. The only larger weeks for vinyl album sales since 1991 came in the weeks ending Dec. 24 and Dec. 17, 2020, with 1.841 million and 1.445 million sold, respectively.

Further, with 942,000 vinyl albums sold at independent record stores in the week ending June 17, that marks the largest week ever for the format at the indie sector in MRC Data history. It surpasses the previous MRC Data-era high for weekly vinyl LP sales at indies: 733,000 sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020.

Record Store Day, the annual indie music retailer celebration, is being staged over two days in 2021 -- June 12 and July 17 -- owed to complications caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, Record Store Day is held on one Saturday in the springtime. In 2019, it was held on April 13. In 2020, Record Store Day was meant to be held on April 18, but was split into three separate drops: Aug. 26, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24.

Per usual, many albums were released specifically for Record Store Day 2021’s first drop -- including those on unique color vinyl variants, one-off pressings, hard-to-find archival projects and reissues of classic and niche albums. (See lists, below, for the week's top-selling Record Store Day-exclusive releases.) Among those that were released on June 12: the first vinyl pressing of Prince’s rare album The Truth, the vinyl debut of Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle of Mexico City live album, a translucent yellow vinyl pressing of Lady Gaga’s Chromatica album, and the CD and vinyl LP debut of Ariana Grande’s live album k bye for now (swt live).

Here are some facts on Record Store Day 2021’s first drop and its impact, plus a look at the top 25-selling Record Store Day-exclusive albums and singles:

All data is for the week ending June 17, 2021, in the U.S., according to MRC Data.

Total album sales across all formats (physical [including CD, vinyl, cassette, etc.] and digital downloads): 2.601 million -- up 38.6% compared to previous week (1.877 million). That’s the largest week for album sales in 2021, and the biggest week since 4.165 million albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020.

Physical album sales (CD, vinyl, cassette, etc.): 2.094 million -- up 47.1% compared to previous week (1.423 million). It’s the largest sales week for physical albums since the week ending Dec. 24, 2020, when 3.523 million were sold.

CD album sales: 803,000 -- up 12.2% compared to previous week (717,000). It’s the biggest week for CD album sales since, again, the week ending April 15, when 862,000 CD albums were sold.

Vinyl album sales: 1.279 million -- up 83.3% compared to previous week (698,000). That’s the third-largest week for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. The only larger weeks for vinyl album sales came in weeks ending Dec. 24 and Dec. 17, 2020, with 1.841 million and 1.445 million sold, respectively.

49% of all albums sold in the U.S. in the week ending June 17 were vinyl albums (1.279 million of 2.601 million).

61% of all physical albums sold in the U.S. in the week ending June 17 were vinyl albums (1.279 million of 2.094 million).

Independent store album sales: 1.144 million -- up 123.1% compared to previous week (513,000).

Independent store CD album sales: 202,000 -- up 25% compared to previous week (162,000). That’s the largest week for CD album sales at indie stores since the week ending Dec. 24, 2020, when 282,000 CD albums were sold via indies.

Independent store vinyl album sales: 942,000 -- up 169% compared to previous week (350,000). That marks the largest week ever for the format at the indie sector in MRC Data history. It surpasses the previous MRC Data-era high for weekly vinyl LP sales at indies, with 733,000 sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020.

74% of all vinyl albums sold in the U.S. in the week ending June 17 were sold via independent record stores (942,000 of 1.279 million).

Top Record Store Day Exclusive Albums at Independent Record Stores
Rank, Artist, Title

1. Prince, The Truth
2. Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Mexico City
3. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Angel Dream: Songs and Music From the Motion Picture ‘She’s the One’
4. Ariana Grande, k bye for now (swt live)
5. Lady Gaga, Chromatica
6. Linkin Park, Meteora
7. The Doors, Morrison Hotel Sessions
8. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Pinata
9. Twenty One Pilots, Location Sessions
10. Elton John, Regimental Sgt. Zipp
11. The Cure, Faith
12. Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin Companion: Bonus Music and Songs By
13. Grateful Dead, Olympia Theatre, Paris, France, 5/3/72
14. Replacements, The Pleasure’s All Yours: Pleased to Meet Me Outtakes & Alternates
15. Sublime, Sublime Meets Scientist & Mad Professor: Inna L.B.C.
16. The Who, Face Dances
17. Joni Mitchell, Archives – Volume 1: The Early Years (1963-1967): Highlights
18. Steely Dan, Everything Must Go
19 (TIE). Lupe Fiasco, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor Series
19 (TIE). Al Green, Give Me More Love: The Orchestral Greatest Hits
19 (TIE). Steely Dan, Two Against Nature
22. The Notorious B.I.G., Duets: The Final Chapter
23. Fela Ransome-Kuti & The Africa 70, Open & Close
24. Thelonious Monk, Palo Alto
25. Janis Joplin, Pearl
Source: MRC Data, for the week ending June 17, 2021

Top Record Store Day Exclusive Singles at Independent Record Stores
Rank, Artist, Title

1. U2, Fire
2. Haim, Gasoline
3. Deftones, Digital Bath (Telefon Tel Aviv) / Feitceira (Arca)
4. AC/DC, Through the Mists of Time / Witch’s Spell
5. Keith Richards, Wicked As It Seems (Live) / Gimme Shelter (Live)
6. Ella Fitzgerald, Mack the Knife / Summertime
7. The Rolling Stones, Rain Fall Down (Live 2006) / Rough Justice (Live 2005)
8. Genesis, Mama (Live 1990) / Turn It On Again (Medley) (Live 1990)
9. Mudhoney / Meat Puppets, Warning / One of These Days
10. Joe Strummer, Junco Partner (Acoustic)
11. Motorhead, Please Don’t Touch / Emergency / Bomber
12 (TIE). The Chemical Brothers, The Darkness That You Fear
12 (TIE). Czarface & MF Doom, Meddle With Metal
14. Suicide, Cheree / I Remember / Keep Your Dreams
15. Justin Townes Earle, The Saint of Lost Causes
16. UFO, Mother Mary (Live 1979) / This Kid’s (Live 1979)
17. The Hu, Sad But True & Wolf Totem
18. Blind Boys of Alabama, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free / See By Faith
19. Air, People In the City / The Way You Look Tonight
20. Texas featuring Wu-Tang Clan, Hi
21. Hooverphonic, 2wicky / Inhaler
22. Cautious Clay, Prototype / Dyin In the Subtlety
23. Sarah Jarosz, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / My Future
24. Schoolly D, The Real Hardcore
25. Integrity, Cradle to the Grave / Orgasmatron
Source: MRC Data, for the week ending June 17, 2021