More than just a hipster trend? Numbers compiled by a recent RIAA report seem to indicate as much. According to the mid year report, revenue generated from vinyl sales now accounts for more than YouTube, ad-based Spotify, and VEVO combined. And it’s not not even close.
While ad-based music streaming services are generating more money than ever — $163 million in the first half this year as opposed to $128 million last — vinyl sales have those figures soundly beat, ringing in over $222 million in revenue over the same period. With year over year sales up 52 percent, the vinyl format now accounts for almost a third of physical sales and is the fastest growing segment in music. In fact, with CD sales down by almost a third and streaming services rapidly eating away at digital sales, Vinyl is the only physical format enjoying any type of sustained growth.
This is remarkable news, both for artists and vinyl lovers. When it’s time to vote with their entertainment dollar, today’s music consumer has shown a preference for the warmer sound and larger art offered by a vinyl lp. Why pay for a digital download when many vinyl releases include them as part of the package? More artists than ever are printing special singles, colored vinyl, and other exclusive content for analog fans.
That said, streaming services still bring in the most money for musicians overall, with most of that revenue coming from paid subscribers, rather than ad-based sales models. Music streaming generated over a billion dollars in the first half of 2015, while all sales of physical recordings only generated $748 million.
Many artists have been critical of the revenues paid out by streaming music services and satellite radio, where it can take hundreds of millions of plays to generate any sort of notable income. A recent report suggests that most music listeners aren’t likely to convert their subscriptions to services offered by Spotify or Apple music, once the trial period expires. If these numbers hold, an increasing number of those musicians will continue to towards vinyl sales as part of their solution to that problem.