What drives vinyl sales?

Over the last year, you might have noticed that we have been overexcited and wondered over the growing resurgence of vinyl records. The 2014 year was named as the most successful year for vinyl in decades with 9.2 million units sold, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Official Charts Company.

British rock group Arctic Monkeys’s AM was the biggest selling vinyl album of the year, ahead of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and David Bowie’s The Next Day.

Later on, the UK’s first weekly vinyl chart has been launched by the Official Charts Company as sales of vinyl albums and singles continue to soar. The charts company said it was responding to “the huge surge of interest” that has seen vinyl sales climb from a low of 0.1% of the albums market in 2007 (205,000) to 1.5% in 2014 (1.29m).

Despite the fact it’s still seen as a small part of the music business, the interest here is the unusual come back of the format. Usually new formats followed the cycle where it arrived and grew in popularity, reached a peak and then declined and eventually disappeared. In case with vinyl, it has grown in popularity back in the 60-70s, declined in popularity through the 80-90s, got the way down to the bottom and then suddenly started climbing back. The question here is “why”. Why is vinyl growing in sales again, who those people who drive this trend?

When I started to ask myself these questions, the initial thought which popped up in my mind was “nostalgia among vinyl generation”. Vinyl records are becoming popular again among listeners who were brought up with vinyl records, who remember and had experience with this format. However, when I visited a record store in London not so long ago and paid attention to the audience in vinyl sector, I was surprised as the majority of customers were in their 20-30s. What drives these people to buy vinyl records, while they are pretty much familiar with streaming services and can easily access music online, and in some cases even for free?

Are they hipsters in pursuit of being “cool”? Or is it an attempt to compensate the feeling of ownership which is so rare in this day and age, when everything is so digital? I personally go for feeling of ownership, as I do need to feel what I get otherwise it’s not my. It’s very convenient indeed to listen to the music online when you are on a train or driving a car, but when I’m at home I would rather prefer to go for vinyl.

There are certainly signs that, at the very least, millions will continue to buy vinyl each year. It’s been recently reported that vinyl consumers are largely music fans under 35, spelling a relatively bright future for the format. While we certainly can’t say vinyl is on the way to overtake streaming music anytime soon, the format is definitely here to stay on consumer’s radars for the near future and beyond. And for those who once feared vinyl would be lost to the sands of time, that’s a comforting thought!

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Author: Elena Tsarkova

MSc Digital Marketing at The University of Southampton. Fascinated by influence of digital media on human beings.

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