For The First Time In Decades, People Bought More Vinyl Than CDs Last Year
It took 35 years and an industry-altering digital music revolution, but for the first time since 1987, vinyl sold more units than CDs in the U.S. last year. The figure solidified vinyl’s dominance over an otherwise increasingly irrelevant physical music landscape.
The feat is among the most noteworthy stats from the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2022 year-end report released on Thursday, with consumers buying 41 million vinyl units last year compared to 33 million CDs. For decades, the thought that an ancient format like vinyl could outsell CDs was absurd, but as the vinyl boom started in the late aughts thanks to numerous factors like retro appeal and larger, more collectible album art, it eventually became more of an inevitability.
While vinyl just surpassed CDs in units, vinyl revenue itself has beat out CDs since the RIAA’s 2020 report. As per the most recent report, with $1.2 billion in revenue, vinyl now makes up 70 percent of all physical music sales. Vinyl revenue rose 17 percent last year, but CD revenue — which saw an out-of-character rise in 2021 after the pandemic severely limited retail sales in 2020 — once again fell last year by nearly 18 percent.
While vinyl’s continued growth is intriguing, streaming remains the music industry’s cash driver, making up 84 percent of all U.S. recorded-music revenue last year. Revenues overall continue to climb, growing 6 percent to $15.9 billion overall, a record high, although a modest figure compared to the year prior when revenues grew 23%.
Similar to the past several years, paid subscriptions remained by far the biggest money-maker, growing 8 percent last year to $10.2 billion. The average number of paid subscribers grew to 92 million in 2022, the RIAA report said, compared to 84 million in 2021. Ad-supported streaming revenue — revenue from platforms like YouTube and the free version of Spotify — grew 6 percent to $1.8 billion. Digital download revenue meanwhile, continued to drop like it has for the past several years, down 20 percent year over year to $495 million, down 20 percent.
“2022 was an impressive year of sustained ‘growth-over-growth’ more than a decade after streaming’s explosion onto the music scene,” RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said in a statement. “Continuing that long run, subscription streaming revenues now make up two-thirds of the market with a robust record high $13.3 billion. This long and ongoing arc of success has only been possible thanks to the determined and creative work of record companies fighting to build a healthy streaming economy where artists and rightsholders get paid wherever and whenever their work is used.”
Flatbush Zombies' Zombie Juice Releases 'Dizzy' With Spitfire Delivery
- 'Brutally Candid'
2023 CMT Music Awards: How to Watch, Who's Nominated, Who's Performing
- Country Music's VMAs