Part 10 – Trends on the Vinyl Front (2012)

Trends on the vinyl front and actual sales in the market (October 2012):

According to sales statistics that was released for the year of 2011 by the RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America), vinyl once again showed a strong increase from the previous year and was up by 31.5% from the 2010 for LP/EP sales. The value of sales increased from $ 88.9 million in 2010 to $ 119.4 million in 2011. The total amount of LP/EP sales was 5.5 million units as opposed to 4.2 million in 2010. Vinyl singles showed an increase of 19.7% from the previous year, but the monetary value increased dramatically from $ 2.3 million to $ 4.6 million, representing an increase of 99%. The vinyl single market is not necessarily a very important market as regards the percentage that it represents of the total music market, but the general trend of supplying special releases and previously unreleased songs as oddities and fan specials with the LP release certainly does make the collectability and uniqueness of vinyl grow the concept even further. Even though physical sales are down on average by -4.7% as opposed to digital download formats, it is worth noting that CD discs declined by more than that at -4.8%. CD singles did do slightly better than before at a 28% growth, but it should be pointed out that the total amount of CD singles sold was actually less than vinyl LP’s at a total of 1.3 million. This would certainly not be seen as a huge market when compared to vinyl, and literally becomes a drop in the ocean when compared to digital downloads (total amount of digital downloads for 2011 was 2.6 billion!).

It remains interesting and bewildering alike that vinyl is still growing at a steady rate in a fully-fledged digital age. The main contributors to vinyl popularity can be ascribed as follows (and in no particular order of relevance):

  1. Quality – there has certainly been a strong improvement on the quality front and new releases are very seldom poor, quality control of the vinyl compound and end product is very high
  2. Additional content – extra cuts not found on original releases are good examples, re-issues very often contain new and expanded liner notes and additional marketing material, stickers and other memorabilia
  3. Artwork on new releases is back to very high standards as found on very early and old releases (the format does inherently lend itself to better artwork and possibilities due simply and logically to the fact that larger surfaces are easier to work with and cover with better and more art)
  4. As turntable and related hardware products are still improving the quality of sound that can be reproduced is still getting better and more enjoyable
  5. Records are still perceived as better value for money and represent a more collectable and tangible product (the value of ownership is still valued more highly than CD)

It is very likely that vinyl sales and availability will continue to increase due to various factors as there is a stronger and more dedicated demand for high quality vinyl. As more and more releases are being done that represent the old classics in a fresh and new manner with specific attention paid to the collector, with expanded box sets and extra material on offer, and better sound quality on offer, more and more users are supporting vinyl as the preferred format for high quality and individualistic music reproduction.

When taken into account that 2012 has been very successful for vinyl as regards sales, and that the above figures effectively represent figures of more than a year ago, and taking into account that the supply and demand for vinyl have both increased, it stands to reason that the growth trend and popularity will continue and expand even further.