The re-rise of the vinyl record

The RIAA has released its annual year-end revenue report, surveying the state of the recorded music industry at the end of 2020. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, trends across the past several years carried on: Streaming is up 13.4%, generating $10.1 billion last year compared to $8.9 billion in 2019, accounting for 83% of the total revenue of the industry. Vinyl sales have continued to rise, too, increasing a whopping 29.2% to $619.6 million, compared to $479.5 million in 2019.

The rise in vinyl sales made up for the continued decline in CD sales, leading to a marginal 0.5% decrease in revenue across all physical media from to 2019 to 2020. Music downloads continue to trend downwards, too, decreasing by 18% to $674.4 million last year as compared to $822.8 million in 2019. The RIAA report concludes that streaming has driven the industry to grow for the fifth consecutive year, with revenues increasing 9.2% in 2020, generating $12.2 billion in total. Read the full report here.

If you wait long enough, everything comes full circle. All of the trends of the past, all of the nostalgic representations of yesterday return for a visit now and then.

CDs are dead. Remember the scenes from NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION when the Griswald’s snobby neighbors get their brand new giant CD player destroyed by Clark’s tree? CDs were highbrow and snobby at that time, while cassette tapes were the music venues of the working class heroes!

Now.. as vinyl returns, THAT TOO becomes the highbrow class. Most records are more than $30, and when people buy them they keep them in shrink wrap and love them for their cover art. 

Everything comes full circle.

Now if tapes come back? Well, new generation, get ready for a level of frustration that you have never felt in your life.

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