Vinyl Outselling CD

I am posting this article so that it will be in the Audiogon Forums database. I was looking for it the other day on here and I couldn't find it.

I am not posting this so we can debate the merits of vinyl vs. cd. If you think digital is superior then that's great. As long as everyone is enjoying the music that is all that matters.

Here is the article:

"BESET by digital piracy and increasing customer reluctance to pay for CDs, the music industry is fighting back with its latest technology – black vinyl records.

Music labels and high street retailers are busy turning back the industry’s clock to a time not only before internet song downloads, but also before CDs or even audio cassettes. The irony is that the vinyl revolution is being led by teenage consumers who are prepared to stand in line for the latest 45 rpm single or 331/3rpm LP (long-playing record) in much the same way that their parents, or in some cases their grandparents, did.

According to Rob Campkin, the head of Music at Virgin Megastores, vinyl is now outselling CDs when it comes to the latest records.

“Up to 70% of sales of new releases are vinyl. The fans of popular new rock bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Raconteurs prefer vinyl to CD,” said Campkin. “When the Raconteurs’ latest single was released, 80% of high-street sales were for seven-inch vinyl and only 20% were for CDs.”

“We are not just talking about vinyl singles but also about albums – the format is just continuing to grow,” said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

The trend is born out by figures from record industry body, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). According to the BPI’s findings, vinyl records are a technology that has come back from the brink of extinction to take the industry by storm. Between 2001 and 2005, annual sales of vinyl single in the UK rose sixfold to over 1m, accounting for 14.7% of all physical singles sales in 2005, up from 12.2% in 2004. The industry expects vinyl figures for the current year to be even more dramatic.

The vinyl revolution has caught many of the big music labels napping. It is the smaller independent labels who have been able to snap up successful new bands. This has left big players in the industry, such as EMI, scratching their heads and wondering why teenagers are embracing a technology the music industry had dismissed as outdated and obsolete before most of them were born.

Record labels like EMI are finding themselves losing the next generation of music stars to upstart labels like Domino Records, which handles hit bands Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys, and Rough Trade, which handles The Strokes and rock music’s latest human disaster area, Pete Doherty.

According to Virgin’s Campkin, the smaller independents have one key advantage over the larger labels as far as the artists are concerned.

“The independent labels will release material on vinyl where the more established are more reluctant to do this,” said Campkin.

One reason for this situation is believed to be that the mainstream music industry has forsaken vinyl to the extent that there is now no big vinyl processing plant in the UK. This means that the discs must be pressed offshore and that a large number of new vinyl recordings are limited editions that quickly become collectors’ items. This type of operation, where limited pressings are carried out by factories in other countries, is better suited to the independent labels than to the more established players.

Virgin also reports a trend where fans will buy the CD when it is released and will wait weeks or months until the vinyl release before buying that as well. Some vinyl albums, such as the last White Stripes release, continue to sell consistently for months.

In addition to the new releases, retailers Virgin and HMV report a growing demand for classic pop records on vinyl from artists such as The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Market research has shown that these new releases of older material are often being bought by younger customers, just as older “baby boomers” are increasingly augmenting their collections with LPs from modern artists such as the White Stripes.

“The original baby boomers, who are now in their fifties, are not only buying classic pop records by the Beatles or the Stones but are also adding new artists from the independent labels to their collections,’ said HMV’s Castaldo.

According to Virgin’s Campkin, one major reason for the renewed popularity of vinyl is its collectability, which operates on two levels. On one level, collectability means seeing the value of a 99 pence (E1.43, $1.73) single CD increases 50-fold in a single year.

“The first 7-inch single release from Arctic Monkeys, which came out a year ago, is now selling on eBay for £50-£60,” said Campkin.

He added that the second sort of collectability is the desire to own a record collection of one’s own.

“Vinyl is far more iconic in this respect,” said Campkin. “The record sleeve offers the consumer art work as well as information about the performers and song lyrics.”

Some well-known music figures believe that the industry did itself irreparable damage when it switched to CDs 20 years ago.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of 1960s supergroup The Who, said in a recent interview: “The record labels sold everybody a white elephant with the CD. They pushed it over as being this wonderful musical formula that you can play forever that sounds better and is scratch proof. None of it was true; CDs do not sound as good as vinyl and they last for five minutes.”

Like other artists of his generation, Daltrey believes that pop music generally sounds better on vinyl as so much of it was originally developed to be played on the vinyl format rather than on digital equipment. Vinyl enthusiasts say that the bass and vocals on most songs cannot be accurately reproduced on a compressed digital format and that the music inevitably loses something by being reduced to what is essentially just a binary computer code.

Daltrey also believes that record sleeves are a key part of the attraction of vinyl.

“We threw away an art form that was so much more than the record,” said Daltrey. “The size of the cover was perfect for art work. Sometimes the covers were more important than the music. The more fingerprints you got on it, the more it was a part of you. With a CD, you start with a nice plastic box and end with a scratched plastic box; it has no character whatsoever.”

Campkin said: “I think the record sleeve is paramount. With a vinyl album you feel you have spent £10-£15 on something tangible that will last.”

Daltrey also believes that it was the switch to CDs that ultimately led to the music labels’ horrendous problems with digital music piracy.

“The problem with the CD is that if you can copy what is on it for nothing, as you now can, why would you want to buy it?”

Music retailers such as Virgin and HMV are also coming to the conclusion that consumers want a return to a more tangible format. They fear that the logical conclusion to the evolution of digital music is a world without high street music retailers where fans do everything over the internet and download all their music via a PC.

Virgin plans to opens a new 25,000 square-foot Virgin Megastore in Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre that it hopes will transform the way consumers perceive record stores. More space than ever will be dedicated to vinyl records and customers will have access to turntable and

listening booths in the same way that teenagers did in the 1950s and 1960s. The store will also offer “chill-out” areas with armchairs and sofas where customers can relax and listen to music.

Virgin plans to use the same formula in other stores in the hope that it will be able to persuade teenagers to see the megastores as social venues as much as music shops. The company hopes that the strategy will enable it to offer consumers enough added value to head off growing competition from cut-price supermarket CD offers and internet download services.

The music retailers do not believe that vinyl will ever entirely replace digital music formats. Instead, they predict that the same fans will often subscribe to both formats by downloading music for their MP3 players and PCs but will also wait for the vinyl release to add that to their permanent record collections.

Virgin believes that digital music downloads may not be as big a phenomenon as some the industry anticipates and will account for no more than 10% of the overall market by 2009 and that the appeal of vinyl will continue to grow to shoppers who want to take home something tangible and lasting.

Those industry players which do not become part of the vinyl revolution will see their market share decline as smaller nimbler players snap up the new artists and establish brand loyalty with an increasingly vinyl-hungry record buying public."

Back to top
Who knew?
Is this true? If it is it is fantastic news. There is nothing like competition to improve quality and pop CD quality has been lousy lately...

1980's pop Vinyl sounds a lot better than much of the compressed pop CD's of today!
Great article.It's about time the truth was spoken about analog.But I agree if you love didgital go for it.With LPs it to me is much more a personal thing with the cleaning of the records,the bigger graphics,the liner notes,a cd you just plop in and go.I will say some of the cd booklets that come with some disks are ok but they just don't compare to the old liner notes.No I don't think lp's will ever surpass cds but I think they will eventually give cds a run for the money in the next five years.What do you guys think?
Nexy weeks news will be about the Edison Cylinder outselling CDs. Didn`t your mother tell you not to believe everything you read?
don't get too excited...the artic monkeys aside, vinyl is a rounding error in a 12 billion dollar industry.
It is true that the large format liner notes of LPs are nice. What they put in CDs is printed in such small type and often with colored background that I find reading next to impossible. However, DVDA often include video tracks discussing the music and/or the recording process, some of which are very interesting and more than make up for the miniature liner notes.
Utter flapdoodle. Excuse me while I go puke...
I was told the other day by an old opera fan that Caruso records are selling like hot cakes all over again, only thing there still in 78 mode.So now everyone has to go out and buy an "Edison victrola" player to play them on. Do you think it would be agood time to buy stock in the company making them.
First I think it's hysterical that some people are upset by this article. It couldn't be true right? God forbid. Vinyl has become the Mac of the music industry. Sorry guys us weirdo's with our lp records, big graphics, and record cleaning machines are here to stay. Given some peoples response to this post I support you if you need therapy to deal with this. :)

Actually , my prediction is that within the next five to ten years CD's will make up an insignificant portion of music sales. CD sales have been declining for years and 2007 is no different. This has nothing to do with quality, vinyl, etc. Blame it on the IPOD. I think we are going to be in a situation where most people will download their music.

Oddly enough this could leave us with a marketplace where vinyl outsells CD's but downloaded music outsells them both.
The article aside, I would like to thank Uraniumcommittee. I believe this is the first time I have seen flapdoodle and puke in the same reply.
The author of this seems to be confusing larger sales volume with larger sales growth:
"...accounting for 14.7% of all physical singles sales in 2005, up from 12.2% in 2004..."
Presumably, the other 85.3% was on CD.
It could even be the case that vinyl sales are declining, but CD sales are declining faster, resulting in greater market share for vinyl.
How many non-audiophiles do you know who are buying new vinyl? How many nwe records do you see in stores compared to how many new cds you see in stores? How many cars come with record players? How many people do you see at the gym with a record player strapped to their shoulder?

It may be, as Nrostov says, possible that vinyl could outsell CD in the future, but they would both be small niche markets, compared to the download industry. The only way we are going to see a return to big record stores springing up all over the country is if someone attacks the country with some kind of sci-fi EMP device and destroys all solid state electronics. If I'm wrong, I'll eat my socks!
Honest1, earlier in the article it suggests that vinyl is outselling CDs on new releases on an outright basis in some cases.

The thing to note is also that DJ-ing has become a VERY popular hobby for young people these days. It's also a star career. Being able to "scratch" is viewed as a strong skillset, and something of an accomplishment to do it well.

There are more than a dozen mostly-vinyl stores within a 10 minute walk from my apartment, but they are almost all inhabited by young people looking to find samples from the discs.
i've been in the music business for 30 years and i love albums, but they are not making a comeback...the sales are what they are, and they aren't getting better....whatever the folks a virgin are smoking, have them send us some.
Hey guys,

I found an interesting story about why vinyl is making a comeback on NPR.

Here is the link:

Have a listen
Jaybo, that was a good one :).
I think it could be little doubt that LP's sounding more natural etc., though CD's getting better and better lately and i finally discovered that in a right setup i.e. player/transport/DAC/ cables/speakers room acoustic etc., matched properly (which BTW took me only 12 years and who knows how much money to get :) ) CD's can play very enjoyable, while the convenience of remote control is hard to overestimate. As a fact lately I’m listening more to XM radio because it can play 24/7 without need for me to jump from the couch for month's :) unlike LP's when you have to quit everything and run for your life in order to lift that hand because the thousand dollars worth cartridge hitting against the clamp in the end of the LP, which is by the way lasts for only about 15min a side. So, what I’m saying, its nice to have TT and LP's but it's like cigars and brandy you use them rearly and little by little, when you have a time and want to enjoy something special. And again it's nice to have LP's in your collection if you can get them for about a quarter a piece or couple dollars at much. I would never pay £50-60 for any LP. I don't believe LP’s will ever come back on the large scale but would welcome if it'll happened, not for £50-60 a piece though.
Not taking sides in the debate as to which is better but until WalMart, Best Buy and the rest of the big box stores start selling vinyl, lps won't make a dent in real sales.
As far as the real world is concerned lps are dead, CDs are dying, SACD and DVD-A are unknown entities. We are alone here.
I think most young people are commited to iPod listening, HOWEVER, I also think they are eclectic when it comes to how they feed their 'Pods. With inexpensive USB turntables now entering the market, there is another format (vinyl) now available for adding (in some cases previously unavailable) content to ones iPod. I think this is great news, both for lovers of all/earlier music, and for the hi-end industry, as many of these young people will begin buying higher quality TT's. It may start out as a status thing, and that's fine, I'm all for it!
My 24 year old son has taken an active interest in vinyl, and has begun amassing his own vinyl collection of current artists. He has been sold on the sonic merits of vinyl from listening to my system and my collection of LPs, many of which we have A/B compared with the CD version (some are MoFi vinyl and CD pairs). I am not making any general statements about the merits of either format, but since he did not grow up with vinyl and has a substantial CD and MP3 collection, I think it is interesting, to say the least. Many of his friends also collect vinyl, so his is not an isolated situation.
Several critical points above: can you buy vinyl in WalMart, BB, etc? That's a big NO around here, which adds credence to beloved vinyl being just a blip on the receipt for the music industry. Yeah, vinyl's different from all the usual retail stuff, it's what the DJ does, which all makes it more cool - and it also has no DRM anywhere in sight, which makes it attractive in another way.

I was in Sam Ash a couple of weeks back and got involved in a chat w/ sales folks in the Pro/DJ room. Seems that the ART phono preamps are just flyin' out the door there. Huh? Seems that it's no secret to the Sam Ash folk that the buyers are using these to digitize their vinyl - buy 'em, burn 'em, and resell 'em for a good buck on certain Web sites (though they did not mention AGon...).
People of taste and distinction are usually a member of a small minority. This is as it should be.
Fashion. Pure and simple.
The NPR story provided by Nrostov's link states that record sales were 1 million compared to 500 million CDs (I didn't catch what year this was for). So vinyl has a long way to go before it outsells CD. But it does sound like CD sales are declining, while vinyl sales are growing.
What I think is interesting about the article and the NPR story is the fact that a format that was thought to be dead is making a come back, especially with young people. When I go to Amoeba records in Hollywood CA I don't see 36 year old guys like me buying records; it's mostly a bunch of teen age boys and girls. I think it's really cool that the younger generation is re-discovering a format that I grew up on.

I don't think that anybody thinks that someday vinyl will out sell digital music. It's just an interesting phenomenon.
I think an overlooked reason for the decline of the sales of CDs is the abundance of used CDs that are as easy to buy, and much cheaper, as new ones. You go to Amazon to buy CDs and there is basically a cheaper version used of anything you want to buy, even fairly new stuff. You have to take into account shipping, which is easy to get for free from Amazon-supplied CDs and costs $2.50 a CD for used.

I agree with the post above and will make a related point - LPs will only catch CDs in quantity sold when Best Buy, Walmart quit carrying CDs. As somebody else said, they will both be niche products at that point.

I'd like to see a serious vinyl revival for a reason not mentioned yet in this thread - I think it would indicate that more people are interested in listening to music as a primary activity. With the added steps vinyl requires, and the cool aesthetics, as well as the built-in "what do you want to listen to next" aspect, vinyl almost requires that you're paying a lot of attention to what is playing, maybe even how it sounds. I have a 17-year-old son, and he listens to music constantly, of all varieties, and has remarked several times how cool TT's and vinyl look, but I've never known him to sit and just listen with friends. I did that all the time when I was his age.
Okay, so teens are buying vinyl. My daughter did this same thing two years ago. She went to a "cool" section of town and picked up some lps. I set up a tt for her and she was cool, she was in heaven for a month or so. Where are those lps now? In the back of her closet. The music is truly in her blood but let's not forget how fickle trend chasing teens are. She still listens to some of that music, but through her ipod. Just my observation.

Before I got my record player I used to listen to songs, now I listen to albums(It's not so easy to skip songs on lp).

I think that the idea that only those who use LPs actually appreciate the music, and, as a corollary, listening to LPs makes you a music expert, is absurd. As has been mentioned before, some world renowned musicians use very pedestrian audio equipment.

My experience with LPs has been that their various problems detracted from my enjoyment of music. This was true before CDs were invented. I have always been troubled by surface noise during quiet passages. I often had to get up halfway through a side and clean up a dust ball on the stylus. Even if that didn't happen I had to get up halfway through a symphony and flip the record.

I am not bashing vinyl which under ideal conditions and with substantial investment in equipment can sound great. But I do not live in a world of ideal conditions. Were it not for CDs I might no longer listen to music at all.
Great points by Eldartford and KThomas. I think the point isn't that the only way to sit and listen to music is via vinyl, but that if you are listening to vinyl, it requires you to pay more attention to it. Some of the young people I know listen to music constantly, but it seems to be as a sound track to their lives. I get the impression that they are not listening attentively to it, but rather are using it to create a mood for whatever else they are doing. I don't think this is wrong, but it is a different experience than listening to the music as a primary activity. When music becomes a more labor intensive activity by playing records (you have to do something at least every 20 minutes, and you have to be near a big, non-portable machine), it does force you to pay more attention (or, like Timrhu's daughter, give up).
However, once you've gotten in the habit of listening attentively, there's nothing wrong with making it convenient. I think this greatly enhances the enjoyment of music. Being able to skip songs I don't like, being able to backtrack and listen to an interesting section over adds greatly to the ability to pay attention to the music.

Were you replying to me specifically??? I was talking about my individual experience. When I used to listen to CD's all of the time I would just play the tracks I liked and I skipped the rest. This was true about 80% of the time. Vinyl forces me to listen to the whole album. However this is just me. I am in no way trying to make this a blanket statement for everyone.

Whatever way people appreciate music I am all for that. I have a friend who listens to classical music on his IPOD. That would never work for me. Does that mean his way of listening is inferior? Certainly not! He is taking time to appreciate beautiful music and that's the most important thing.
I have recently got back into vinyl after a 20 year hiatus and
I'm having a blast. There are alot of stores that sell vinyl in my area and every weekend I'm hitting a different store. I'm amazed when I go to these stores and see all these young people buying vinyl. I'm usually the oldest one there and I'm only 45. Most of the people in the stores are 15 to 30 years of age. When I have seen people my age buying music it's always CD's not vinyl. If vinyl is really making a comeback it's because of young people not guys my age.
Sometimes, when engaged in something like carpentry, or stacking firewood, I hum something nice, like the Mozart horn concerto in E flat. I suppose my humming is the ultimate of low fidelity audio equipment, but I still enjoy the music :-)
04-19-07: Mags5000

The article aside, I would like to thank Uraniumcommittee. I believe this is the first time I have seen flapdoodle and puke in the same reply.

Thank you.

Interesting but this is the UK market and not indicative of the record industry in the states...true vinyl has held on...but it only accounts for a small fraction of total music sold everybody downloading is the music industrys' latest attempt to tap into a market that already let the cat out of the any rate...the quality of digital music over the internet has improved greatly...and will continue to do so...
No secret cd sales are declining...and no secret vinyl has been way more resilient than expected...and yes vinyl sales are up...but they still account for less that 1% of total music will never be a mainstream format again...
Never say never. If your line in the sand is between analog and digital, then vinyl is the culmination of a century's development on one side of that line. The other side with a 20-year run, seems to be undergoing a bit of harsh clipping in figuring out what to do next.
Attention Span Deficit Disorder which first brought us the sound bite, now brings us the music bite. The album(Long Playing)is also on the wane - whether this is a supply or demand side phenomenon is open to question.
In the end, the MP3 surge fits well into the Owellian "less is more" doublespeak. Reduced repetoires, reduced frequency - but by Jove, you can pack a heck of a lot of that thin soup into something that fits into a shirt pocket. Give in to the Blackberry Borg forever?
The fact that vinyl techonolgy has been around much longer than digital does not mean that it is more mature. The PACE of technology advancement has greatly increased, so that a period of ten years today is equivalent to 50 or more a hundred years ago.

Vinyl technology has come a long way in the past ten years as well-turntables, tonearms, cartridges, 180g and 200g records etc.

Anyway, I don't think there is anyone who says that vinyl is going to take over the market again.
Nrostov...ALL technology (including vinyl). I imagine that today's buggy whips are much improved.

Well Eldartford,

Not to argue with you, because your point is well taken. Then again books have been around a millennium without all that much in technological advances – text-messaging notwithstanding.

The book analogy isn’t all that much of a stretch when you take in the richness found in a used book store (akin to a used record store) against what is being offered in the in the “Big Box” outlets. To be sure, I can be accused of constructing a backward-looking lament. But I also lament the loss of flavorful tomatoes – hybridized for rough shelf life.

Did we really demand these tasteless, mealy fruits?
Man I do love a a good tomato. Makes me think of living in Greece where the tomato (or nearly everything) I ate was picked that day or the day before.

I REALIZE all technology has advanced. I was simply pointing out that vinyl playback has come a long way as well. Geez your defensive.
Nrostov...perhaps you didn't notice, but I was agreeing with you.
More to discover