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The State of Vinyl Record Collecting 2022
Many of us are reflecting on our vinyl collections and how they have evolved throughout 2022. And we're almost certain that you're already anticipating multiple releases to add to your collections in 2023. Aside from the hot new releases, what is the overall health of the industry? Let's take this moment to look at the most current data to see how the vinyl record industry is doing.
Vinyl Record Sales–2021Data
2021 was a great year for vinyl records, and now that we have all of the data for 2021, we can review it together. According to Billboard.com, vinyl sales have been consistently increasing since 1986. However, only recently have we seen dramatic increases. Since 2017, the market has seen a 550% increase in sales volume, with the difference between sales in 2020 and 2021 being the most staggering with a 51.1% increase last year alone! It should be noted too that CDs only experienced a 1.1% increase in sales.
Even more impressive is the amount of money invested in vinyl records over the years, especially the growth in just the last year. RIAA data shows gradual increases in money spent from 2017 to 2021, and the most compelling is the 61% increase in the previous year alone. These trends are consistent with the consumer's purchasing habits for not only new records but also used records. Additionally, the data needs to specify trends for collectible vinyl records. Once solid numbers can be produced, we will share them with you. Nonetheless, we see that collectors are fronting the cash for new records, and record sales overall are thriving.
Who Are Buying Vinyl Records?
The diversity among vinyl collectors is even more encouraging. Purchases are spread across vast age ranges. For example, the 55+ demographic has historically been the leader in vinyl record purchases. The 2021 data shows a tie between 25-34 and 55+ at 21% each of all new vinyl record sales. And in second place, both 35-44 and 45-54 are tied for 19%. What is great about this data is that we now see 35-55% virtually spending the same amount on vinyl records in 2021. What got us most excited were the younger age groups. Those 18-24 are purchasing 14% of the vinyl records. How awesome is that? It gets even better! The youngest age group in the report is 13-17, responsible for 7% of all purchases! Why are we so excited about the smallest number? Because those who make up the 13-24 age groups are the future of our hobby. We need them to keep collecting and loving vinyl, and the data shows they are!
Another interesting metric is the gender demographics for those purchasing vinyl. We see nearly an even split between males and females. Males make up 52% of sales and females 48%. This is even more important to show how diverse the hobby has become.
More Vinyl Record Sales Data
Now that we see people of all ages buying records, what genres are they listening to? The data we have on this is a bit long in the tooth. However, we do have Statista's 2018 report. To no shock to anyone, rock is at the top of the list, with pop music coming in second place. R&B comes in third, with rap coming in fourth. However, most R&B and rap are often paired together when describing the genre. Then we see a sharp decline in popularity in the following genres. Since this data is from 2018, I am confident that jazz would have a bit of an uptick with the popularity of the jazz releases that are coming out and collected. Below is a chart of the 2018 data.
What we all want to know, however, is how vinyl records are compared with other popular formats in the marketplace. We have RIAA data from 2016-2021 that tracked CD and vinyl record sales for each year, and we see something interesting happen between 2019 and 2020. A complete reversal in roles occurred, with vinyl records taking the official lead in music medium sales in the USA. We also see a dramatic increase in 2021, showing plenty of momentum in the market. 2021 marks the first time since 1986 that vinyl record sales exceeded a billion dollars in the US market and the first time since 1986 that vinyl record sales exceeded CD sales. 2021 was an impactful year, and once 2022 data comes in, we will be interested to see how much the economy is putting pressure on vinyl sales. Something that should be noted is that a billion dollars in 1986 were different from a billion dollars in 2022 due to the US dollar's inflation. So while the numbers don't quite mean what they look like in the graph, it still indicates strong growth and sales; however, there is still plenty of room to do even better.
Digital downloads are also seeing a shift in purchases over the last year. To make sure that we are talking about the same thing, we're comparing US sales of vinyl records and comparing those sales with the sales of downloadable digital music, including digital albums, singles, ringtones, ring-backs, and other digital music downloads. These figures do NOT include streaming platforms. In 2020 digital downloads exceeded vinyl record sales slightly, and 2021 reports show that vinyl record purchases far exceeded digital downloads. We found it most impactful that if you add up all digital music sales in 2021 with digital downloads and CDs, vinyl record sales out-sell all digital music sales. Again, these numbers exclude digital streaming platform subscriptions.
Music streaming platforms remain the go-to digital music platform. We hear talks about a possible CD resurgence, which could happen, and it wouldn't be for the music quality because streaming platforms offer CD quality or better these days. The only attractive feature of CDs is that they're a physical medium you can hold and look at; when comparing CDs and vinyl records as physical mediums, vinyl wins hands down.
What to expect in 2023
Digital streaming will continue to improve and gain popularity. We also expect vinyl record sales, both new and used, to continue their upward trajectory. CDs may hold even or even increase just a bit since the prices of vinyl are increasing, giving CDs a cost advantage. AAGS has also seen much interest in getting vinyl records graded and encapsulated. Autographed record sleeves and vinyl records, vintage and rare sealed records, and rare complete-in-sleeve records, are all coming our way to grade and slab. It makes us wonder how the collectible vinyl market will look for the industry. We can tell you that 2023 will be our best year yet!
If you are interested in vinyl record encapsulation or any of our other services, please visit us at aagservices.org to learn more about how you can bring your collection to the next level! email@example.com