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. And not only that, LP sales jumped by more than 50 percent in 2021, surpassing both digital and CD album sales. According to MRC Data, 41.7 million 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 MRC Data's 2021 Year-End Music report, LPs accounted for 38 percent of album sales in the United States, which is quite substantial. Factoring in streaming and downloads of single tracks, however, that number drops to 4.7 percent of album equivalent music consumption, which puts things in perspective.
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.