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Vinyl sales surpass CD revenue, first time since 1980s

Vinyl's resurgence has been fueled for years by collectors and hipsters nostalgic for side A and side B - Martin BUREAU / ©AFP


Vinyl records are outselling compact discs in the United States for the first time in more than 30 years, according to an industry report released Thursday.

Music fans dropped $232.1 million on records in the first half of 2020, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, far surpassing the $129.9 million spent on CDs.

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Vinyl sales contributed 62 percent of total physical music media revenues — which dropped 23 percent year-on-year, a decline the RIAA attributed to the coronavirus pandemic’s shutdown of music venues and stores. 

Nevertheless vinyl’s numbers marked a turning point for the retro darling whose resurgence was fueled for years by collectors and hipsters nostalgic for side A and side B.

But physical records remain niche: the RIAA said streaming accounted for 85 percent of revenue in 2020’s first six months, much of which saw most Americans holed up at home to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Streaming music revenue spiked 12 percent to $4.8 billion in the first half of 2020, the RIAA said, as platform users appeared increasingly willing to pay for subscription services.

The number of paid subscriptions at services including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon soared to 72 million, up 24 percent compared to the first half average for 2019.

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