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Vinyl Sales Outpace CDs and Continue Upward

Posted by James Duncan on

This week news comes that the latest album from Harry Styles, entitled Harry’s House, set a modern-era record for the highest sales in a week for a full length vinyl release in the U.S. The album sold over 146,000 copies in three days, stealing the title from Taylor Swift's 2021 release Red (Taylor's Version), which sold 114,000 copies. 

It underlines the continuing trend of vinyl becoming the dominant form of physical album sales, surpassing all other formats including compact discs (CDs). Data from the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) shows that vinyl sales increased 61% last year to $1 billion, making it the highest yearly tally for the format since 1986.

CD sales did grow 21% in 2021 to $584 million, however, marking that format's first annual increase since 2004.

Neither format surpasses streaming music sales however, which racked up a healthy $12.4 billion in sales in '21. Interestingly, streaming has become the dominant form of music consumption despite its' inferior audio quality. 

Music streamed on such services as Spotify and downloaded as digital music files like MP3’s is compressed. This is done to reduce the size of these audio files, making them quicker to download or easier to stream using less Internet bandwidth, but this compression reduces the audio quality. 

Many consumers don't seem to mind the reduced audio quality but there is a difference. It is worth noting that the best quality audio format ever sold to consumers is actually the CD. Fresh, new vinyl played on a quality turntable in many cases is also better than digitally streamed music. Try playing a CD of your favorite album and then streaming it and you will hear an audible difference.

It is more than unlikely that vinyl sales will ever surpass streaming due to the convenience of accessing a whole collection with your cell phone, for example, but it is interesting to see today's artists finding a receptive audience with the vintage format. 

Don't forget to check out our vintage vinyl, cassette and CD section here for some tasty selections on whichever format you prefer!

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