Continuing one of the more surprising comebacks of the digital age, vinyl album sales in the United States have grown for the 16th consecutive year. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 41.3 million EPs/LPs were sold in the U.S. last year, up more than 45-fold compared to 2006 when the vinyl comeback began.
So how big is vinyl's comeback really? Should we all dust off our old record players to prepare for the analog future of music? According to Luminate’s 2022 Year-End Music Report, LPs accounted for 43 percent of album sales in the United States last year, which is quite substantial. Factoring in streaming and downloads of single tracks, however, that number drops to less than 5 percent of album equivalent music consumption, which puts things in perspective. Moreover, as our chart illustrates, vinyl is still far away from its glory days in the 1970s, when more than 300 million LPs and EPs would be sold in a single year.
However big or small the impact of rising LP sales on the music industry’s bottom line may be, it’s fascinating to witness a hundred year-old technology come back from near extinction. Physical goods, it appears, still hold value for many people, even in the digital age. Interestingly, vinyl LPs appear to have become a bit of collectors' item for fans, who listen to music digitally but still want to own a physical object: according to Luminate, only 50 percent of vinyl buyers actually have a record player.