Vinyl outsells CDs for the first time in 35 years with music sales at highest since 2003

A resurgence in vinyl sales is nothing new, but for the first time in three-and-a-half decades, it’s now surpassed the sale of CDs.

Vinyl covers

In the turbulent world we live in, few things can be accurately predicted. But the sale of vinyl outstripping CDs in 2022 was one such correct prediction made by the Entertainment Retailer’s Association (ERA) – and echoed astutely by us – last year.

That’s after new figures released today from ERA show that whilst vinyl sales grew by 11%, CD sales declined by a hefty 17.4% – raking in £150.5 million and £124 million respectively. This marked the first time vinyl proved more popular than CDs since 1987.

Overall, music sales grew by 3% last year, reaching just shy of £2 billion, which in turn is the highest level of sales since 2003 – and nearly double the amount of 2013’s figures.

Man sorting through vinyl records

Whilst overall physical sales dipped slightly, by 3.8%, the continued resurgence in the higher-priced vinyl’s popularity led to increased overall music sales.

Vinyl’s overtaking of CD sales was boosted by impressive numbers for Taylor Swift’s Midnights, Arctic Monkey’s The Car and Harry Styles’ Harry’s House. Midnights, which was issued in five colour-coded editions of its physical editions, even became the first album since the 80s to sell better on vinyl than it did CDs – a trend that may well prove more common given today’s ERA figures.

ERA’s CEO, Kim Bayley, has played up the overall success of the industry rather than just the music alone. “We are approaching a watershed,” she said in a statement. “Thanks to the investment and ingenuity of streaming services on the one hand and to the physical retailers who have driven the vinyl revival on the other, music is within sight of exceeding £2bn in retail sales value for the first time in more than two decades.

“Music has to be great to win people’s attention, but it’s the buying and consumption experience which ultimately persuades people to put their hands in their pockets.”

Taylor Swift Midnights

Taylor Swift’s Midnights became the first album that sold better in vinyl format than CDs since the 1980s.

And whilst the continued rise (or re-rise) in vinyl sales grabs the headlines, the overall increase in music sales saw was mainly driven by streaming from the likes of Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and Apple. Revenue from subscriptions to such streaming platforms in fact grew by 5%.

Today’s figures, provided to ERA courtesy of the Official Charts Company, are preliminary and are set to be confirmed and expanded on in detail by the ERA’s yearbook released in early March.

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