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Vinyl sales down this year after decade-long resurgence. Has it peaked?

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By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday, September 23, 2016

HBO killed off its drama “Vinyl” earlier this year after just one season. Has the resurgence of actual vinyl peaked?

In the first half of 2016, Americans bought 8.4 million vinyl records,down from 9.2 million in the same period in 2015, according to the Recording Industry of America. Revenues fell from $221 million to $207 million.

CD sales fell 11.2 percent in that same period from 43.8 million units to 38.9 million units. That trend has been happening for more than a decade.

For years, hipsters and audiophiles have embraced vinyl as a throwback replacement for crap digital downloads and CDs. Turntables and LPs have popped up for sale at Urban Outfitters, Target and Barnes & Noble.

Sales skyrocketed from very low levels a decade ago.

For record companies, it wasn’t enough income to reverse time when ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys were selling millions but in 2015, LP revenue actually exceeded that of free streaming by the likes of Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud. ($422 million vs. $385 million.)

Revenue last year for LPs was its best since 1988.

Still, people bought seven CDs for every LP in 2015, even as CD sales continue to go down. And streaming from paid subscriptions helped put total revenues in that category to more than $2 billion.

 

 


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