While overall album sales have gradually declined in the United States over the past decade as music consumption shifted to streaming services, vinyl LPs have gained popularity as a physical token in the digital age. Between 2007 and 2021, album sales dropped from 501 million to 109 million according to MRC Data. LP sales, meanwhile climbed from 2.5 million to 41.7 million, making vinyl the big winner of the streaming age (next to streaming services obviously).
As the following chart shows, CD sales in particular have dropped precipitously over the past decade, while the age of digital albums was cut short by the advent of streaming services. Interestingly, LP sales surpassed both CD and digital album sales last year, making vinyl records the most popular format outside of streaming services.
While the album has been losing relevance in recent years as streaming services pushed playlist-based listening, some music fans still value the work that some artists put into creating a coherent piece of art. Looking at album sales, it seems like there is significant overlap between album buyers and vinyl aficionados. Without saying that one is better than the other, listening to a vinyl album is the three-course meal to streaming’s snackable two-minute tracks. There’s a time and a place for both.