Vinyl record sales in 2021 at highest level for 30 years

23 per cent of all albums bought this year were on vinyl, with ABBA's 'Voyage' the biggest seller

Vinyl record sales in 2021 were the highest they’ve been in 30 years, despite widely publicised issues with backlogs and delays.

According to new figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), more than five million vinyl records were sold this year, an 8 per cent increase on 2020. It marks the 14th year in a row that the format has increased sales, with vinyl records making up 23 per cent of all albums sold this year.

The biggest-selling vinyl album of 2021 so far is ABBA‘s comeback record ‘Voyage’, while Adele‘s huge ’30’ and Sam Fender‘s ‘Seventeen Going Under’NME’s Album Of The Year – also sold big on wax.

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Reflecting on the stats, Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, Brit Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “It’s a great time to be a music fan, with wider choice on offer than ever before supported by great value.

“Thanks to record label investment into new music and talent, fans can purchase and collect the music they most love on vinyl, CD and even cassette, whilst also enjoying access to over 70 million songs to stream instantly whenever and how often they want, in turn enabling a new generation of artists to create music and sustain successful careers in a global market.”

ABBA are back with new album and "revolutionary" live experience, 'ABBA: VOYAGE'. CREDIT: Press
ABBA are back with new album and “revolutionary” live experience, ‘ABBA: VOYAGE’. CREDIT: Baillie Walsh

Earlier this year, a new study found that Gen Z buy more vinyl records than millennials. According to a survey conducted by MRC Data, 4,041 people aged 13 and over were questioned over the course of two weeks about their musical influences, inspirations and purchases, with 15 per cent of Generation Z respondents – people commonly identified as being born roughly between 1997 and 2012 – claiming to have purchased vinyl albums in the previous 12 months.

Campaigns such as LoveRecordStoresRecord Store Day and National Album Day also helped rally sales for independent record shops and specialist chains.

2020 also saw vinyl outsell CDs for the first time since the 1980s. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), vinyl contributed a staggering $232million (£181million) to total physical sales of $376million (£278million) in the first half of 2020.

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Last month, figures from the music industry spoke to NME about what’s really causing the delays in manufacturing vinyl and artists getting their albums made – arguing that the blame does not lie at the feet of Adele.

Reports emerged in recent weeks of a crisis facing vinyl-lovers, with sources telling Variety that more than 500,000 copies of Adele’s long-awaited new album ’30’ have been pressed – causing a huge backlog and problems in the production line for others wishing to get LPs manufactured with the world’s limited resources.

“Even without Adele, the problem would still be there,” Chris Marksberry (MD of worldwide vinyl manufacturing broker Sound Performance) explained. “As the demand becomes bigger, people order more so everybody’s initial order will be bigger than it would have been 12 months ago.”

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