In 2022, vinyl records outsold CDs in the United States for the first time since 1987
Data released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) shows that in 2022, vinyl record sales in the United States surpassed CDs for the first time since 1987, reaching 41 million units, while CD sales totaled 33 million units. Vinyl record sales have continued to grow over the past 16 years, now accounting for 71% of all physical music formats’ revenue.
In 2022, physical music formats such as vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes generated $1.7 billion in sales in the United States, a 4% increase compared to 2021. Vinyl record sales alone totaled $1.2 billion, while CD sales amounted to $482 million, an 18% decline from the $585 million reported in 2021.
The RIAA is not the first organization to claim that vinyl record sales have surpassed CDs. Earlier reports from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) in the UK had the same conclusion, albeit based on sales statistics from the UK. Additionally, similar growth reports have emerged from Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
Several factors have contributed to the resurgence of vinyl records. Many music enthusiasts believe that vinyl records provide warmer and more authentic sound compared to digital music. Nostalgia is also a significant factor for those who experienced the golden age of vinyl records. The younger generation is also pushing for vinyl record sales, considering the medium to be tactile and even as works of art. According to statistics, Taylor Swift was the best-selling artist last year, with nearly 1.7 million vinyl records sold, surpassing the combined sales of Harry Styles (719,000 units) and The Beatles (553,000 units).
Of course, streaming still dominates the market. The RIAA’s data shows that music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify accounted for 84% of total music revenue in 2022, a 7% increase from the previous year, and a historic high of $13.3 billion. However, digital download sales continued to decline, plummeting 20% in 2022 to only $495 million, down 12% from the previous year.