Vinyl records on sale: Vinyl Record Store | Best Vinyl Records & LPs

Sales of vinyl albums overtake CDs for the first time since the late ’80s

did you CDs numbers? —

Andrew Cunningham

Sony

Sales of vinyl records have been on the rise for years, but according to the RIAA’s 2022 year-end revenue report for the music industry (PDF), record sales hit a new high last year. For the first time since 1987, unit sales of vinyl albums outpaced those of CDs, vindicating all the people who have spent decades of their lives talking about how vinyl “just sounds better.”

Although vinyl unit sales only surpassed CDs last year, revenue from vinyl records has been higher than revenue from CDs for a while now. In 2022, the RIAA says that vinyl albums earned $1.2 billion, compared to $483 million for CDs. The growth in vinyl was more than enough to offset a drop in CD revenue, helping overall physical media revenue climb 4 percent over 2021 (which was already way up over 2020).

Growth in vinyl revenue was more than enough to offset a drop in revenue from CDs. Vinyl unit sales have surpassed CD unit sales for the first time since 1987.

RIAA

Streaming services still account for the vast majority of all music revenue in the US—84 percent, up from 83 percent in 2021. The RIAA says there was an average of 92 million streaming music subscriptions active in 2022, which, together with digital radio and ad-supported sites like YouTube, generated $13.3 billion. The growth of streaming services and physical media comes at the expense of paid digital downloads, which accounted for a mere 3 percent of all music revenue in 2022.

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There have always been people who have asserted that music played on vinyl sounds better than digital music, but that probably doesn’t explain vinyl’s increasing popularity this long after the advent of CDs, MP3s, and streaming music. A vinyl album is large enough to double as an art piece, and there’s something appealing about the tactility of physical objects in an age where media is increasingly ephemeral.

Streaming still accounts for the vast majority of music industry revenue, though physical media is holding on even as downloadable music goes extinct.

RIAA

There’s also a retro-tech element to vinyl’s resurgence. Old 2000s-era digital point-and-shoot cameras are currently popular with high schoolers and college students who grew up with smartphones, and there are enduring communities around modding and restoring old PCs, game consoles, typewriters, and all kinds of other things that have ostensibly been “replaced” by superior alternatives. CDs and iPods are down and out right now, but they’re apparently just one viral TikTok trend away from renewed relevance.

If you want to start (or re-start) your own vinyl collection, the format has become popular enough for companies like Audio Technica, Sony, and Victrola to release new turntables with modern amenities like Bluetooth connectivity.

Andrew Cunningham
Andrew is a Senior Technology Reporter at Ars Technica, with a focus on consumer tech including computer hardware and in-depth reviews of operating systems like Windows and macOS. Andrew lives in Philadelphia and co-hosts a weekly book podcast called Overdue.

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Vinyl Album Sales Rise for 17th Straight Year — But Growth Is Slowing – Billboard

In 2022, for the second year in a row — and only the second year since Luminate began tracking music sales in 1991 — vinyl albums outsold CD albums in the U.S. Vinyl continues to be the leading format for album purchases for the second straight year, according to figures announced in the U.S. 2022 Luminate Year-End Music Report.

Vinyl was the dominant format for album purchases in the U.S. up until the early 1980s. After that, cassettes took hold until the early 1990s, when the CD format blossomed and remained king until 2021.

Further, vinyl album sales grew for a 17th consecutive year in the U.S., with Taylor Swift’s Midnights ruling as the top-selling vinyl LP in 2022. It sold 945,000 copies last year — the largest yearly sales total for a vinyl album since Luminate began tracking sales in 1991.

Growth for the format is slowing, though. Following a 51.4% year-over-year increase in vinyl album sales in 2021 and a 46.2% year-over-year increase in 2020, sales in 2022 rose just 4.2% over the year. Whether that’s due to slowing demand or supply issues that more pressing plants could help alleviate — it marks a significant deceleration following a pandemic-fueled period of rapid expansion.

17 YEARS OF VINYL GROWTH: 43.46 million vinyl albums were sold in 2022 (up 4.2% from 41.72 million in 2021). 2022 was the 17th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew in the U.S., and the largest year for vinyl album sales since Luminate began tracking data in 1991. Plus, vinyl LP sales posted their single-largest sales week of the Luminate era when 2. 232 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 22.

43% OF ALL ALBUMS SOLD WERE VINYL LPS: Vinyl album sales comprised 43.4% of all album purchases in the U.S. in 2022 (43.46 million of 100.09 million total sales across all formats — both digital and physical). Vinyl LPs accounted for 54.4% of all physical albums sold last year (43.46 million of 79.89 million; physical albums include CDs, vinyl LPs, cassette tapes and other niche physical formats). Both sums are Luminate-era records for vinyl’s share of the album sales market in the U.S.

In 2022 there were a total of 88 albums that sold at least 50,000 copies on vinyl — up from 87 in 2021. To compare, only 56 albums in the CD format sold at least 50,000 copies in 2022 (down from 67 in 2021).

ONLY HALF OF U.S. VINYL BUYERS OWN A RECORD PLAYER: While vinyl album sales continue to gain each year in the U.S., only half of those fans buying records actually own a vinyl record player, according to a research survey commissioned by Luminate. Last September, the firm published the statistic as part of its U.S. Music 360 2022 – Wave 2 report. Of those respondents over the age of 13 who had purchased vinyl in the previous 12 months, there was a question asked about which devices they owned, and only 50% said they owned a record player. Total respondents for the Music 360 study: 3,992.

NEARLY HALF OF ALL VINYL ALBUMS WERE SOLD AT INDIE STORES: in 2022, 48% of all vinyl albums sold in the U.S. were purchased at independent record stores (20.92 million of 43.46 million). The second-largest seller of vinyl LPs in 2022 was Luminate’s category of Internet/mail order/venue, which accounted for 32.8% of the market (14.26 million of 43.46 million). Sales included in the Internet/mail order/venue category include those generated by mail-order websites like Amazon, Target.com and Walmart.com, official artist web stores and merchandise stands at concert venues. In third place was the mass merchant category, which includes in-store sales at stores like Target and Walmart. The segment had 13.6% of vinyl album sales in 2022 (5.90 million of 43.46 million).

ROCK RULES: Among Luminate’s core music genres measured, rock music accounted for a leading 51.83% of all vinyl albums sold in 2022 (22.52 million of 43.46 million). That’s essentially the same volume as in 2021 when rock accounted for 51.78% of all vinyl albums sold (21.60 million of 41.72 million). The second-biggest genre for vinyl album sales in 2022 — and in 2021 — was R&B/hip-hop, which accounted for 17.59% of the market last year (7.65 million of 43.46 million). In 2021, R&B/hip-hop held 17.38% (7.25 million of 41.72 million). R&B/hip-hop is an umbrella genre that includes most R&B and/or rap albums.

‘MIDNIGHTS’ IS MASSIVE: The top-selling vinyl album of 2022 is Swift’s Midnights, with 945,000 copies sold across all of its vinyl variants and editions (see top 10 list, below). Midnights has the largest yearly sales total for a vinyl album since Luminate began tracking sales in 1991. The set also posted the single-largest sales week for a vinyl LP in Luminate history, when it launched with 575,000 copies in its first week.

TOP 10 SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2022 IN U.S.
1. Taylor Swift, Midnights (945,000)
2. Harry Styles, Harry’s House (480,000)
3. Olivia Rodrigo, Sour (263,000)
4. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city (254,000)
5. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (243,000)
6. Tyler, the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost (211,000)
7. Taylor Swift, Folklore (174,000)
8. Tyler, the Creator, Igor (172,000)
9. Michael Jackson, Thriller (168,000)
10. The Beatles, Abbey Road (160,000)
Source: Luminate, for the tracking period Dec. 31, 2021, through Dec. 29, 2022.

Eight of the year-end top 10-selling vinyl albums saw their sales enhanced by their availability across multiple variants (including assorted color-vinyl editions). Among the top 10 vinyl sellers, only Tyler, the Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost (No. 6) and Igor (No. 8) were available in one iteration each.

Midnights, for example, was available in four vinyl LP editions, each with a different cover and colored vinyl (dubbed Moonstone Blue Edition, Jade Green Edition, Mahogany Edition and Blood Moon Edition). Target stores also carried an exclusive colored-vinyl Lavender Edition. To further enhance sales, Swift’s official web store sold signed copies of the four standard vinyl LPs during a pre-order window before the album launched. As previously reported when the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, some superfans may have been motivated to purchase all four vinyl variants, as the back covers of the albums fit together like a puzzle to display a clock face (a literal reference to Midnights). Swift shared the news through her social media in mid-September, saying: “If you put all the back covers together, she’s a clock. It’s a clock… It makes a clock.” (Swift’s official web store previously sold hardware to hold the four CDs or the four vinyl LPs together as a wall clock.)

SWIFT IS QUEEN OF VINYL: Swift sold the most vinyl albums among all acts in 2022 in the U.S., with 1.695 million sold across her entire catalog of albums. (She sold more vinyl LPs last year than the next two biggest sellers on vinyl combined: Harry Styles with 719,000 and The Beatles with 553,000.) Swift loomed so large on vinyl in 2022 that one of every 25 vinyl LPs sold last year in the U.S. was a Swift album (1.695 million of 43.46 million).

Swift has six of the year’s top 40-selling vinyl albums — Midnights (No. 1; 945,000), Folklore (No. 7; 174,000), Red (Taylor’s Version) (No. 11; 153,000), Evermore (No. 14; 134,000), Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (No. 30; 97,000) and Lover (No. 36; 91,000). Styles and Kendrick Lamar have the second-most titles among the year’s top 40-selling vinyl LPs, with three each.

Luminate began tracking music sales in 1991 when the company was known as SoundScan. Luminate’s sales, streaming and airplay data is used to compile Billboard’s weekly charts. Luminate’s 2022 tracking year ran from Dec. 31, 2021, through Dec. 29, 2022. Luminate is an independently operated company owned by PME TopCo, a PMC subsidiary and joint venture between Penske Media Corporation and Eldridge.  Billboard is an independently operated company owned by PME Holdings, a subsidiary of PME TopCo.

Which sounds better: vinyl vs. disc

A 2020 industry report showed that for the first time since the 1980s, vinyl record sales surpassed CD sales. Record sales accounted for over 60 percent of total physical music media revenue. Many music lovers claim that vinyl records sound “warmer” and “higher quality” than CDs and music from the Internet. Is it so?

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Perhaps you have a friend who winces when you listen to music from the Internet. He has a vinyl player, and at any opportunity he reminds that the records sound “warmer” and “better”.

The answer lies in the difference between analog and digital recording. Vinyl is an analog record, while discs are digital.

On a technical level, the CD is much better at reproducing sound. Discs outperform records in terms of signal-to-noise ratio, stability of reproducible speed or pitch. However, digital audio works by breaking the audio down into thousands of samples per second (this is called the sampling rate and is measured in Hertz). The sampling rate of a CD is high enough that a person won’t notice the drops.

When playing music from a disc, the player converts the digital signal to analog and feeds it to the amplifier. The amplifier then raises the signal strength to a level sufficient to drive the speaker.

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A groove is cut into the vinyl record to reflect the waveform of the original sound. This means that no information is lost. The output of the player is analog. It can be fed directly to the amplifier without conversion.

Analog signal continuous. The waveform from the vinyl recording is smoother and more precise, so the sound is really brighter and richer. The problem with vinyl is that any dust particles and damage to the record will distort the music being played.

Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell told Forbes: “Digital recording is zeros and ones, man, whatever you say. Whether it’s a CD or downloaded from the Internet, there is a certain unevenness in it. Vinyl always wins. It’s warmer, it’s soothing, it’s easier on the ears.”

The sound quality also depends on the recording method. If the artist used an analog format to create the master recording, then the vinyl record will sound much better. If the performer used a digital recording, then a CD is better.

To record a digital album on vinyl, the sound engineer needs to convert the music from digital back to analog. Every time specialists have to convert a recording from one format to another, there is a chance that its quality will suffer.

Some researchers believe that it is not the quality of the sound that plays an important role, but the ritual that precedes its reproduction. It’s like with lovers of “sniffing” paper books – the music lover gets the main pleasure from taking the record out of the envelope, blowing dust off it and placing it on the player.

Vinyl records — the story of a collector

How I started collecting vinyl

— I started collecting records as a student. Interest in vinyl was the result of another hobby. At school, I got the idea to become a disc jockey: I listened to programs on the radio, where sets of famous DJs and new electronic music played.

The opportunity to try myself in this capacity appeared at the university: there was a music club, and in it there were professional CD players. There I learned how to mix tracks, make mixes from discs, my listeners and recognition appeared there.

Usually played on weekends or holidays at parties. At the same time, a desire arose to learn how to play vinyl – to reduce two records to one rhythm, to find the right speed, to work with the mixer at different frequencies and do it at the same time. At that time I had 20 records of different musical styles. Then I bought the first vinyl player.

Igor Mark with vinyl records

DJ not only listens to his vinyl collection, but also plays on it

I bought my first records with club music in 2000. They cost about 350 ₽, then it was a lot of money for a student. In this club I often went to parties, made friends there and watched the game of DJs.

In those days, music was hard to get, the Internet was not yet so accessible. Club music could be listened to on radio stations or purchased media – CDs and records.

Vinyl was not cheap, but whenever possible I bought the records I liked. I mainly took themed vinyl: techno, house, speed garage – and now these directions are in my sets.

I didn’t have my own equipment. The turntable for vinyl records cost decent money. I was able to buy “Turntables” only after graduating from the university, moonlighting in the clubs of Yekaterinburg. The record player has speed modes, a better pickup, and the sound goes to a mixer or other music playback device.

This is how the first records that Igor bought in the 2000s look like

There were periods when I lost interest in vinyl – it just stood in boxes, I did not listen to records and did not play them. But he didn’t sell anything. Now I have about three thousand records, but the main part of the collection on which I play is no more than one and a half thousand pieces. They are sorted by style and stored in special boxes.

Why vinyl records are attractive

— In recent years, people have begun to pay more attention to physical music media. These are not only gramophone records, but also cassettes and film reels. Therefore, now they are actively buying players for these media.

Vinyl record reproduces analog sound, its quality is much higher than digital. In comparison, the analog sound is softer, warmer and tighter, with a large range of low frequencies.

Vinyl is also interesting in design. Some collectors buy records just for the cover. When a label releases a release, they put as much effort into the design as possible. Sometimes there are such extraordinary drawings and photographs that when choosing a record, people do not think about what is recorded on it.

The original design of a record and its cover often attract buyers as much as a musical recording.

There are several categories of vinyl collectors. The first ones buy it not just for collecting. I include myself in this group: I not only listen to records, but also play them.

There are audiophiles who collect just for fun: they can open a good wine, put a record on an expensive turntable and enjoy the music.

And the third category is those who buy expensive records and then resell them at twice the price. Such collectors can buy a whole box of records at a sale, keep a couple for themselves, and sell the rest. This is a business, there is no attachment to the records.

Recently vinyl auctions have become popular. They put up records that cost no more than 500 ₽, but due to the hype, they can cost significantly more. For some, vinyl has become a salvation from lack of money – if funds are needed, the record can be quickly and profitably sold.

Vinyl should be handled with care and treated with special care products and stored in envelopes. I additionally put protective bags on my records so that the cardboard covers do not wear off.

A DJ carries 40-50 records in his bag, they have to be constantly sorted out and taken out, because of this the packaging wears out and loses its appearance. To carry the vinyl, I have a professional bag. At home, I keep records on racks in boxes with handles.

All records in Igor’s collection are sorted by musical genres

Where to listen to records

— You can listen to old records on any vinyl player. They are sold online and in electronics stores. Prices range from 4–5 thousand rubles to 50 thousand rubles and more.

But it’s not enough to choose to lose. Its main detail is the pickup or needle. It depends on the sound quality. I would recommend buying a quality player, for example, from the Japanese company Technics. It can be bought from the hands for 50-70 thousand rubles. The device has a dust cover, you can buy a good pickup separately, for example, from the Swedish company Ortofon.

Collectors often use professional turntables to listen to vinyl

How much does vinyl cost today

— Now vinyl can be purchased mainly on the Internet. As a rule, all material comes from Germany and England. Due to the situation in the world, deliveries are not so frequent now, but you can buy almost everything.

I’m looking for vinyl in specialized groups in social networks or on sites that sell music for DJs. The prices there are reasonable – within 1,300-1,500 ₽, you can take a new record in an envelope. I order records online and receive them by mail. I buy mostly music in the styles of electro, techno, deep house, chillstep.

On average, the cost of a record ranges from 1,300 to 2,500 ₽. When setting prices, sellers are guided by the European market and the Discogs website. On it, records are sold directly by world labels, as well as private collectors. Prices have changed recently – what used to cost from 1,000 ₽, now starts from 1,400 ₽. These are Near Mint records, that is, not new, already open. A new vinyl in an online store costs from 2,500 to 10,000 rubles.

Basically, all vinyl is now sold in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Russia has its own factories that print records. Such vinyl costs from 3,000 to 15,000 ₽. And these are most often modern albums, reissues of rock or pop music. As a rule, such records are sold in large offline stores that make a markup.

In Ekaterinburg it is almost impossible to buy a new club vinyl for DJs. But there are many shops in the city that specialize in classics and rock. I visit one of them from time to time. They sell a lot of collectible vinyl that costs astronomical money. And, according to the sellers, there are quite a few customers who can leave from 5 to 15 thousand rubles per evening for Japanese or English rare releases.

The most expensive records cost me 5 thousand rubles, this is the release of the Vox Nox label. I have a Prodigy platinum in my collection, which I bought in 2016 for only 600 ₽. Now such a release is again in print in Europe, and its price ranges from 4,000 to 5,000 rubles.

I used to buy up to five records a week, now I only buy one or two. I’m not chasing quantity, it’s more important for me to choose music that I can listen to and play in the club.

I’m not interested in big stores that sell records with expensive covers and famous artists. Such vinyl costs from 4 thousand rubles and more, there are 8-12 thousand rubles. I collect releases, many of which are almost non-existent in digital.

Over the course of several years, the price of a record can increase five or six times in price.

There is only imported vinyl in my collection. All records have very high quality sound. Even after 20 years, you can put on a Da Hool DJ track and it will sound no worse than now. Because the analog sound that is cut on the record does not change its characteristics. The disc, unlike the CD, does not crumble and, with proper care, can last a lifetime.

Five years ago I reviewed the collection and did a small sale of 100 records. After placing an ad on the city website, people began to come to me, listen to records, buy them. Many became good friends, I still communicate with some, I played with someone in bars and clubs – as a rule, these are DJs and collectors.

Often at vinyl fairs in our city there is an exchange of records, at such events people get to know each other, communicate, form a circle of musical interests.

Lately I’ve been buying light music: downtempo, liquid funk, drum and bass. And recently I bought a Melodiya record, and now such vinyl is not cheap. I found it on Avito for 1,300 ₽.

Soviet records have a much worse sound than foreign ones, for example, German ones. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the technologies were put on stream – the records were printed at three factories. Many bought them – they were affordable, an ordinary worker could buy them.

Collector chooses certain labels to buy vinyl – Plant43 Recordings, Cragie Knowes, Skryptom records, Nocta Numerica

I don’t think vinyl is an investment. It is wrong to buy records and think about how much you will sell them for. I buy vinyl to play or listen to at home. But there are collectors who are sure that the more records they buy, the more expensive they can sell them later.

I never wondered how much my collection could be valued. According to the most approximate estimates – from 3.5 million rubles. Perhaps in my old age or under some life circumstances I decide to sell something. But now I’m not ready to do it. A lot of money has been invested in records, and these costs cannot be recouped.