VINYL OR DIGITAL?
Even Steve Jobs listened to vinyl.
The late Apple CEO, whose iTunes Store revolutionized the music business for the online era, “listened to vinyl” at home.
I’ll save the age old “What sounds better” argument for another article and for today’s article I will dive into the statistics of what’s hot and what’s not on the music sales forefront.
Although compressed MP3 files and digital streaming services from YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and many others have become the norm for music listening, surprisingly vinyl sales have skyrocketed from under a million in 2007 to potentially more than 8 million this year in the U.S. alone — in part thanks to the thinking that vinyl just sounds better.
The top-Selling vinyl LP of 2019 was The Beatles’ classic №1 album “Abbey Road’.
TOP 10 SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2019 IN U.S.
1 The Beatles — Abbey Road 246,000
2 Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?176,000
3 Queen, Greatest Hits 139,000
4 Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1123,000
5 Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (Soundtrack)108,000
6 Beach Boys, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best Of…107,000
7 Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon 92,000
8 Michael Jackson, Thriller 88,000
9 Bob Marley and The Wailers, Legend: The Best Of…84,000
10 Fleetwood Mac, Rumours 78,000
Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019 through Jan. 2, 2020.
Although 80% of the top selling vinyl albums are classics, there are also younger record labels continuing the tradition.
Producer Jamie Vale and CEO of Flotilla Records says that after Flotilla Records launches in October 2020 they will most certainly press the top selling digital singles and albums to vinyl and keep the tradition alive.
VINYL VICTORY: For the 14th consecutive year, vinyl album sales grew to a new yearly high, climbing to 18.84 million sold in 2019 (up 14.5%). , according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data )for the tracking period of Jan 4, 2019 through Jan 2 2020).
This is more than 20-fold compared to 2006 when the vinyl comeback began.
LET’S TALK DIGITAL: In 2019, just 39.3 million digital albums were sold in the United States. This marks a drop of almost 25 percent year on year. Digital album sales peaked in 2012 and 2013, but have been dropping ever since and even fallen below the figures recorded prior to 2010. Digital song sales continued to decrease and also fell by 25 percent between 2018 and 2019.
Digital sales are decreasing and vinyl sales are increasing yearly and surprisingly CD sales are still the most popular format for album sales, but digital sales are still in the lead overall.
The past decade has brought along many changes, both technological and societal, which have forever changed the face of the global music industry. Today, music superstars, such as Beyonce, who was the highest paid musician in the United States in 2016, have money, coverage in all possible mediums, and power like never before. However, as of 2015, the worldwide revenue generated by the music business stood at 16.1 billion U.S. dollars, some nine billion less than in 2002.
It seems that the internet, the magical tool that is responsible for the creation of so many music celebrities, might also be responsible for the dismal statistics surrounding the sale of music albums in the United States, once the main revenue stream in the business. As the data shows, annual music album sales in the United States have plummeted from 500 million units sold in 2007 to under 170 million units sold in 2017. At the same time subscription and streaming services, have been steadily growing in the past years. The fall in record sales is attributed to the rise of illegal music downloading, but also to legal services, which provide music products without the additional costs of production and shipping.
Despite changes in the way we acquire music, consumers still enjoy and value music industry products. Recent studies show that more consumers are choosing to use a legal alternatives to file sharing, mainly digital music streaming services, such as online radio services like Pandora and Spotify. Additionally, musicians reorient themselves from album sales towards live performances and business deals to boost their incomes. As of 2017, the sales revenue from concert tickets in North America was at an all-time high, with revenue that hit eight billion U.S. dollars for the first time.
It’s too early to predict yearly statistics in the current pandemic and how this will have an effect on concerts, music sales and streaming in the future, but the industry is most definitely set for another huge change. My prediction is that in the short to medium term concert revenue will decrease and streaming revenue will rise dramatically as people will prefer listening to music in the safety of their own home for now. However, long term the live music sector will recover as vaccines appear and people start to feel confident around large crowds once again.