What’s the Deal with Vinyl?

Written by on January 17, 2022

It seems that everyone has a record player these days. I think I personally know more people with record players than Nintendo Switches at this point, though I’m not sure if that says more about the state of the music industry or the people I choose to spend time with.

In any case, records have had a massive comeback over the last few years, with 2021 seeing the highest vinyl sales since 1991. Nearly 42 million vinyl records were sold last year, up over 50% from 2020, but this meteoric rise also marks the first time vinyl sales have outpaced CD’s in 30 years.

Record sales now make up more than 50% of all physical album sales in the US, and nearly 39% of all album sales combined, physical or otherwise.

Photo courtesy of CultureMap

Amazingly, independent record stores made up the majority of US vinyl sales, a great sign for both local retailers and artists, who are much more likely to make sales at mom & pop shops. Additionally, larger merchants such as Target and Walmart experienced a rise in vinyl sales last year, and have devoted more floor space to the medium.

2021 also saw two different Record Store Day events, which saw thousands of enthusiasts around the world flock to indie retailers for exclusive releases and artist performances.

Houston is lucky to be home to a variety of great independent record stores, from Vinyl Edge in the Heights, to Sigs Lagoon in downtown, to Cactus Music near the Museum District, to Sound Exchange in the East End.

Photo courtesy of Cactus Music

With a rise in recent years of affordable record players, and with more mainstream and indie artists releasing new albums on vinyl, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen this meteoric rise in sales. At the tail end of last year, MRC Data (the company that collects data on record sales) saw the first week with over 2 million sales in their 30 year history.

Now at this point you may be asking “Well that’s cool Morgan, but what does all this mean?” and in truth, I’m not a statistician so I’m not quite sure. But what I can tell you is that it seems we’re returning to a golden age of music, where people can support and interact with artists and each other on a deeper level than before.

No matter what you listen to, it’s a great time to be a music fan.

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