U.S. Vinyl Album Sales Rise for 17th Straight Year — But Growth Is Slowing
Forty-three percent of all albums sold in the U.S. in 2022 were vinyl LPs, led by Taylor Swift's Midnights — but the format's growth curve is starting to level out.
In 2022, for the second year in a row — and only the second year since Luminate began tracking music sales in 1991 — vinyl albums outsold CD albums in the U.S. Vinyl continues to be the leading format for album purchases for the second straight year, according to figures announced in the U.S. 2022 Luminate Year-End Music Report.
Vinyl was the dominant format for album purchases in the U.S. up until the early 1980s. After that, cassettes took hold until the early 1990s, when the CD format blossomed and remained king until 2021.
Further, vinyl album sales grew for a 17th consecutive year in the U.S., with Taylor Swift’s Midnights ruling as the top-selling vinyl LP in 2022. It sold 945,000 copies last year — the largest yearly sales total for a vinyl album since Luminate began tracking sales in 1991.
Growth for the format is slowing, though. Following a 51.4% year-over-year increase in vinyl album sales in 2021 and a 46.2% year-over-year increase in 2020, sales in 2022 rose just 4.2% over the year. Whether that’s due to slowing demand or supply issues that more pressing plants could help alleviate — it marks a significant deceleration following a pandemic-fueled period of rapid expansion.
17 YEARS OF VINYL GROWTH: 43.46 million vinyl albums were sold in 2022 (up 4.2% from 41.72 million in 2021). 2022 was the 17th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew in the U.S., and the largest year for vinyl album sales since Luminate began tracking data in 1991. Plus, vinyl LP sales posted their single-largest sales week of the Luminate era when 2.232 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 22.
43% OF ALL ALBUMS SOLD WERE VINYL LPS: Vinyl album sales comprised 43.4% of all album purchases in the U.S. in 2022 (43.46 million of 100.09 million total sales across all formats — both digital and physical). Vinyl LPs accounted for 54.4% of all physical albums sold last year (43.46 million of 79.89 million; physical albums include CDs, vinyl LPs, cassette tapes and other niche physical formats). Both sums are Luminate-era records for vinyl’s share of the album sales market in the U.S.
In 2022 there were a total of 88 albums that sold at least 50,000 copies on vinyl — up from 87 in 2021. To compare, only 56 albums in the CD format sold at least 50,000 copies in 2022 (down from 67 in 2021).
ONLY HALF OF U.S. VINYL BUYERS OWN A RECORD PLAYER: While vinyl album sales continue to gain each year in the U.S., only half of those fans buying records actually own a vinyl record player, according to a research survey commissioned by Luminate. Last September, the firm published the statistic as part of its U.S. Music 360 2022 – Wave 2 report. Of those respondents over the age of 13 who had purchased vinyl in the previous 12 months, there was a question asked about which devices they owned, and only 50% said they owned a record player. Total respondents for the Music 360 study: 3,992.
NEARLY HALF OF ALL VINYL ALBUMS WERE SOLD AT INDIE STORES: in 2022, 48% of all vinyl albums sold in the U.S. were purchased at independent record stores (20.92 million of 43.46 million). The second-largest seller of vinyl LPs in 2022 was Luminate’s category of Internet/mail order/venue, which accounted for 32.8% of the market (14.26 million of 43.46 million). Sales included in the Internet/mail order/venue category include those generated by mail-order websites like Amazon, Target.com and Walmart.com, official artist web stores and merchandise stands at concert venues. In third place was the mass merchant category, which includes in-store sales at stores like Target and Walmart. The segment had 13.6% of vinyl album sales in 2022 (5.90 million of 43.46 million).
ROCK RULES: Among Luminate’s core music genres measured, rock music accounted for a leading 51.83% of all vinyl albums sold in 2022 (22.52 million of 43.46 million). That’s essentially the same volume as in 2021 when rock accounted for 51.78% of all vinyl albums sold (21.60 million of 41.72 million). The second-biggest genre for vinyl album sales in 2022 — and in 2021 — was R&B/hip-hop, which accounted for 17.59% of the market last year (7.65 million of 43.46 million). In 2021, R&B/hip-hop held 17.38% (7.25 million of 41.72 million). R&B/hip-hop is an umbrella genre that includes most R&B and/or rap albums.
‘MIDNIGHTS’ IS MASSIVE: The top-selling vinyl album of 2022 is Swift’s Midnights, with 945,000 copies sold across all of its vinyl variants and editions (see top 10 list, below). Midnights has the largest yearly sales total for a vinyl album since Luminate began tracking sales in 1991. The set also posted the single-largest sales week for a vinyl LP in Luminate history, when it launched with 575,000 copies in its first week.
TOP 10 SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2022 IN U.S.
1. Taylor Swift, Midnights (945,000)
2. Harry Styles, Harry’s House (480,000)
3. Olivia Rodrigo, Sour (263,000)
4. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city (254,000)
5. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (243,000)
6. Tyler, the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost (211,000)
7. Taylor Swift, Folklore (174,000)
8. Tyler, the Creator, Igor (172,000)
9. Michael Jackson, Thriller (168,000)
10. The Beatles, Abbey Road (160,000)
Source: Luminate, for the tracking period Dec. 31, 2021, through Dec. 29, 2022.
Eight of the year-end top 10-selling vinyl albums saw their sales enhanced by their availability across multiple variants (including assorted color-vinyl editions). Among the top 10 vinyl sellers, only Tyler, the Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost (No. 6) and Igor (No. 8) were available in one iteration each.
Midnights, for example, was available in four vinyl LP editions, each with a different cover and colored vinyl (dubbed Moonstone Blue Edition, Jade Green Edition, Mahogany Edition and Blood Moon Edition). Target stores also carried an exclusive colored-vinyl Lavender Edition. To further enhance sales, Swift’s official web store sold signed copies of the four standard vinyl LPs during a pre-order window before the album launched. As previously reported when the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, some superfans may have been motivated to purchase all four vinyl variants, as the back covers of the albums fit together like a puzzle to display a clock face (a literal reference to Midnights). Swift shared the news through her social media in mid-September, saying: “If you put all the back covers together, she’s a clock. It’s a clock… It makes a clock.” (Swift’s official web store previously sold hardware to hold the four CDs or the four vinyl LPs together as a wall clock.)
SWIFT IS QUEEN OF VINYL: Swift sold the most vinyl albums among all acts in 2022 in the U.S., with 1.695 million sold across her entire catalog of albums. (She sold more vinyl LPs last year than the next two biggest sellers on vinyl combined: Harry Styles with 719,000 and The Beatles with 553,000.) Swift loomed so large on vinyl in 2022 that one of every 25 vinyl LPs sold last year in the U.S. was a Swift album (1.695 million of 43.46 million).
Swift has six of the year’s top 40-selling vinyl albums — Midnights (No. 1; 945,000), Folklore (No. 7; 174,000), Red (Taylor’s Version) (No. 11; 153,000), Evermore (No. 14; 134,000), Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (No. 30; 97,000) and Lover (No. 36; 91,000). Styles and Kendrick Lamar have the second-most titles among the year’s top 40-selling vinyl LPs, with three each.
Luminate began tracking music sales in 1991 when the company was known as SoundScan. Luminate’s sales, streaming and airplay data is used to compile Billboard’s weekly charts. Luminate’s 2022 tracking year ran from Dec. 31, 2021, through Dec. 29, 2022. Luminate is an independently operated company owned by PME TopCo, a PMC subsidiary and joint venture between Penske Media Corporation and Eldridge. Billboard is an independently operated company owned by PME Holdings, a subsidiary of PME TopCo.