Vinyl outsells CDs for the first time since the 1980s

They contributed to a staggering $232 million of physical sales in the first half of 2020

Music fans in the US purchased more vinyl records than CDs in the first half of 2020, marking the first time since the 1980s that CDs were not the top selling physical format.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), vinyls contributed a staggering $232 million (£181 million) to total physical sales of $376 million in the first half of 2020.

While the coronavirus pandemic saw music sales being slightly impacted by the closure of record stores and venues, the music industry still experienced a degree of growth in Q1/Q2.


Vinyl records. Credit: Getty

The report also reveals that the revenue generated from digital downloads ($351 million) and physical sales ($376 million) dropped below the revenue created in by ad-supported streaming services such as YouTube ($421 million), for the first time ever.

The latest step in the continued revival of vinyl comes after online music marketplace Discogs revealed that global sales on the platform in the first half of 2020 increased dramatically during lockdown.

According to their mid-year report released last Friday (August 28), physical sales on the Discogs Marketplace rose 29.69 per cent – 4,228,270 orders – between January and June this year, compared to the same period last year.

The report attributes the rise in sales partially to a larger number of users as lockdown saw more shoppers turning online, along with “a desire to support small business”.


The most substantial year-over-year improvement came via vinyl record sales, which increased 33.72 per cent with over 5.8 million units sold.

Data regarding the best-selling new releases on the platform were also included in the mid-year report, with Tame Impala‘s ‘The Slow Rush’, The Strokes‘ ‘The New Abnormal’, Khruangbin and Leon Bridges‘ ‘Texas Sun’ and Ozzy Osbourne‘s ‘Ordinary Man’ among the top sellers.

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