2020 may have been a bleak year thanks to the pandemic – but it was also an extraordinary year for vinyl.
In the US, the format sold CD albums on a monetary basis in 2020, according to new data from the industry association RIAA. It was the first time in 34 years that vinyl had trumped annual CD sales in the United States.
According to the RIAA’s new year-end report, vinyl LPs and EPs generated $ 619.6 million in retail spending during the year.
That was $ 136 million more than US music fans’ total CD album spend ($ 483.3 million) in the same 12 months.
Obviously, the closure / restriction of physical retail stores forced by the pandemic would likely have had an impact on CD sales in the US in 2020.
When MBW hit the RIAA’s year-end 2019 numbers early last year, we wrote, “Get ready for a historic year for physical music in 2020 … when retail vinyl sales grow at the same margin [in 2020 as it did in 2019] and CD falls by the same margin, vinyl will be a more lucrative format than CD in the US in 2020. “
And that’s essentially what happened.
According to RIAA data, CD sales declined 23.4% in 2020 and declined $ 147.4 million year over year. Meanwhile, vinyl sales rose 29.2% year-over-year – an increase of $ 140.1 million from 2019 – to surpass the CD’s annual sales.
According to the RIAA, it was the first time since 1986 that vinyl CDs were oversold annually. (In 1986 the CD format was $ 930.1 million, according to the RIAA’s retrospective sales database, with vinyl grossing $ 983.0 million. The cassette was the largest format with sales of approximately $ 2.5 billion of the year.)
However, in terms of units sold in 2020, CDs were more popular than vinyl: RIAA data shows that 31.6 million CD albums were sold and 22.9 million vinyl LP / EPs were purchased in the year.
RIAA figures from the 2020 year-end report
Surprisingly, overall US physical music revenue barely declined in 2020 despite the surge in coronavirus bans across the country, largely thanks to the surge in vinyl sales and the surge in physical music video purchases.
The RIAA’s report shows that despite the 23.4% decline in CDs, total physical music sales in the United States declined only 0.5% in 2020 to $ 1.139 billion.
Physical music accounted for 9% of total sales for the year.
The biggest contributor to the industry’s record sales was, of course, streaming, which generated $ 10.1 billion – a value of 83% of total US retail sales.
According to the RIAA, the U.S. record industry grossed $ 12.2 billion in all formats in 2020, up 9.2% year over year.
The best-selling vinyl album in the US last year was by Harry Styles (232,000 vinyl sales) according to MRC Data Fine Line, followed by When We All Fall Sleep Where Do We Go? by Billie Eilish (196,000 vinyl sales) and Queen’s Greatest Hits (176,000 vinyl sales).Music business worldwide