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Vinyl Sales Increase Despite Industry Slump

Arcade Fire, Black Keys and the Beatles lead in LP sales

January 6, 2011 4:35 PM ET
Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs live on stage at O2 Arena on December 1, 2010 in London, England.
Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs live on stage at O2 Arena on December 1, 2010 in London, England.
Jim Dyson/Getty

Though overall album sales dropped 13 percent in 2010, sales of vinyl increased by 14 percent over the previous year, with around 2.8 million units sold. This is a new record for vinyl sales since 1991, when the format had all but disappeared in the wake of the CD boom, according to a report released yesterday by Nielsen SoundScan.

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Unsurprisingly, the artists who sell best in vinyl are classic rock acts and indie bands. The best selling vinyl artists in 2010 were the Beatles, the Black Keys, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Jimi Hendrix, the National and Pavement. Pink Floyd, Metallica and Bob Dylan were also top sellers in the format.

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The top selling new albums on vinyl were the Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, the Black Keys' Brothers, Vampire Weekend's Contra and the National's High Violet. The overall bestselling vinyl album in 2010 was the Beatles' Abbey Road — which of course was originally released in 1969.

But overall, the music industry's sales trends are worrisome. Overall music sales — albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks — were down 2.4 percent from 2009, and total album sales — CDs, cassettes, vinyl and digital albums — were down 12.7 percent.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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