Vinyl record sales are rapidly catching up with CD sales, and might well outsell their smaller, shinier rival this year for the first time since 1986.
When it comes to clothes, music, movies, and a whole host of other things, trends tend to come and go. One minute we might be looking at old photos of our parents, cringing at what they're wearing. The next, we are asking them if they still have that pair of flares in their cupboard as they have come back into fashion.
The one part of society that doesn't tend to work in trends is technology. No one is routing out their old, cumbersome televisions because they have a retro feel, at least not yet. However, more and more people are choosing to listen to vinyl records. So much so that we have actually been laughed at for doing so by the generation that came before us.
In fact, we appear to be on the cusp of records outselling CDs for the first time since 1986. That's what the Recording Industry Association of America's 2019 midyear report would suggest anyway. 8.6 million records were sold during the first half of 2019, grossing $224.1 million. Although CDs outsold records by 10 million units, due to the price difference between the two forms of media, CD sales only racked up $247.9 million.
The writing on the wall doesn't get any better for CDs either. According to Rolling Stone, sales of CDs are dropping three times faster than record sales are growing. That's why 2019 might well be the year of the record. If the vintage method of listening to music does manage to outsell the CD, it will be the first time it has done so since 1986.
As for the music industry as a whole, records still have a long way to go to return to the top of the pile. Truth be told, as much as trends may come and go, that is never going to happen. Streaming makes up 80% of all revenue in the music industry according to Cnet, and raked in $4.3 billion during the first half of 2019. It would have to give up quite the lead to relinquish that crown.