The surprising findings came from a recent report from The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that tallied up music sales in 2017, and while the number of physical sales is actually on the overall decline, the report notes that this trend is slowing thanks to the growing influx of vinyl record sales.
A number have factors have played into these numbers; vinyl records have increased in popularity in recent years, thanks to events like Record Store Day that celebrate the local independent store while also promoting the work of each year’s RSD Ambassador (St. Vincent in 2017, Run the Jewels in 2018). This marriage of new and old has helped the once niche practice of contemporary artists releasing their music on vinyl become more attractive to more mainstream artists.
For example, while the list of top selling vinyl albums of 2017 in the U.S. was made up of mainstay artists like The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and Prince’s Purple Rain, Ed Sheeran’s ÷ also managed to crack the list at No. 4, slightly beat out by the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1.
Physical sales still have a long way to becoming dominant again, if ever. A closer look at the numbers show that the most popular format was still streaming services, which made up 65% of listeners. Online streaming service Bandcamp who has also served as distributor for musicians on thousands of independent record labels had an increase in revenue in 2017 by 73% alone.
But for record lovers, it’s the little victories, and this week they can claim one over the naysayers in the early 2000’s who said vinyl records were on the way out and that iTunes was the way of the future.