For the 11th time since its conception in 2008, the world will celebrate Record Store Day this Saturday in honour of independently-owned record stores around the globe. Time for us to look at a format that is closely tied to record store culture and has made a surprise comeback in the United States and internationally: the vinyl LP. In 2017, 14 million LPs were sold in the United States, up more than 1,000 percent from 10 years earlier. But how big is vinyl’s comeback really? Should we all dust off our old record players to prepare for the future of music?
Not really. According to Nielsen’s 2017 year-end music report, LPs accounted for no more (but also no less) than 8.5 percent of album sales in the United States. When accounting for streaming and downloads of single tracks, that number drops to 2.5 percent of total music consumption – not exactly the lion’s share.
However small the impact of rising LP sales on the music industry’s bottom line may be, it’s still interesting to witness a hundred-year-old technology coming back from near extinction. Let’s hope the video cassette stays buried in the back rooms of (equally endangered) video rental stores.