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Vinyl trending to surpass CD sales for first time in over 30 years

While we are undoubtedly living in an age of streaming, it seems that vinyl records may surpass CDs in monetary sales for the first time in over 30 years.

According to the RIAA‘s 2019 mid-year report, vinyl sales were up 13 percent. CDs, on the other hand, were up by less than one percent.

In 2018, CD sales fell 34 percent and dropped below a billion dollars for the first time since 1986, according to the RIAA’s 2018 year-end report.

“Records are much cooler, and they always have been and always will be in my book,” vinyl enthusiast Dan Croney said.

The trend is something that record store owners like Bill Pimentel, co-owner of Old Town’s Vintage Vinyl & Antiques, are taking note of.

“Everything points out that vinyl is going to outsell CDs this year,” Pimentel said. “It probably already has surpassed CDs because there’s no way for them to track the vinyl that we sell out of here,” he added, referring to the independent nature of his store.

For collectors like Croney, a regular at Vintage Vinyl, there’s more to the record than just the tunes.

“The artwork is always cool,” he said. “Especially some bands where their artwork fit with the music. That’s really important because it’s a part of the music.”

But with the bigger medium comes a larger price. Most new vinyl releases are in the $30-35 range, which would, in part, explain the ground gained on CDs. But for vinyl lovers, like Croney, it’s a sound purchase.

“The sound quality of a really good pressed vinyl record is incredible,” Croney said.

And now a new generation is marching to those pressed beats.

“We have young kids that come in here and they have just started playing vinyl and, you know, they’re repeat customers,” Pimentel said. “They like to come back and we try to help them through the situation and setting up systems.”

While dropping a needle on the groove may not be the easiest way to jam out, it seems that, in terms of physical sales, it may be the most profitable again.

In total, digital downloads and streaming made up over 90 percent of all music revenue during the first half of 2019, according to the RIAA.


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