Vinyl sales surpass CD revenue in the US for the first time since the 1980s

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Vinyl sales have surpassed CDs in the US for the first time since the 80s.
Vinyl sales have surpassed CDs in the US for the first time since the 80s.
Photo: Alena Axenova/EyeEm/Getty
  • For the first time in over 30 years, vinyls are outselling CDs in the US
  • An industry report revealed the news, saying that vinyl sales contributed to 62 per cent of total physical music media revenues.
  • According to the RIAA music fans spent around R3.8 billion on vinyls in the first half of the year compared to only R2.1 billion on CDs.


Vinyl records are outselling compact discs in the United States for the first time in more than 30 years, according to an industry report released Thursday.

Music fans dropped $232.1 million (R3.8 billion) on records in the first half of 2020, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), far surpassing the $129.9 million (R2.1 billion) spent on CDs.

Vinyl sales contributed 62 per cent of total physical music media revenues - which dropped 23 per cent year-on-year, a decline the RIAA attributed to the coronavirus pandemic's shutdown of music venues and stores.

Nevertheless vinyl's numbers marked a turning point for the retro darling whose resurgence was fueled for years by collectors and hipsters nostalgic for side A and side B.

But physical records remain niche: the RIAA said streaming accounted for 85 per cent of revenue in 2020's first six months, much of which saw most Americans holed up at home to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Streaming music revenue spiked 12 per cent to $4.8 billion (R80.4 billion) in the first half of 2020, the RIAA said, as platform users appeared increasingly willing to pay for subscription services.

The number of paid subscriptions at services including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon soared to 72 million, up 24 per cent compared to the first half average for 2019.