Sales of vinyl hit 25-year-high

Downloads dwindle as streaming and vinyl dominate

Sales of vinyl hit 25-year-high

File photo of shoppers in the Love Vinyl record shop in Hoxton, east London, as vinyl records enjoyed a staggering renaissance in 2016. |Image: by John Stillwell PA Wire/PA Images

Vinyl records sales increased for the ninth consecutive year, hitting a 25 year high.

The research, conducted by UK's label association BPI and the Official Chart's Company, attribute the surge to the death of David Bowie. Sales rose 53% in 2016 to top 3.2 million unit mark – the most LPs sold since 1991.

The boosted sales are being put down to events such as Record Store Day, expanded retail floor-space, and younger fans embracing physical formats of music.

The biggest-selling vinyl artist was David Bowie, with 5 albums posthumously featuring in the top-30 best-sellers, including his Mercury Prize shortlisted Blackstar, which was 2016’s most popular vinyl recording ahead of Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, selling more than double the number of copies of 2015’s best seller on vinyl – Adele’s 25.

It comes as a far-cry from 2007, when vinyl sales hit an all time low of 200,000 for the year.

However, vinyl still only represents approximately 2.6% of the overall UK recorded music market based on AES, and around 4.7% of total album sales.  

Despite this, people are continuing to stream their music, with 45 billion audio streams served in 2016 – an increase of more than two-thirds (68%) on last year, and an increase of 500% from 2013. Figures exclude data from YouTube, which the Official Charts Company does not record.

1 billion streams were achieved in December last year - starkly contrasting with weekly streams in 2014, totalling less than 200 million at the start of 2014. 

"Fans are listening to music in so many ways now – we’ve definitely entered a multi-channel era", Vanessa Higgins, CEO Regent Street and Gold Bar Records, and an independent label member of BPI Council said. "Millennials, who’ve grown up digital, are increasingly choosing to experience both current and heritage artists on vinyl also. Meanwhile older baby-boomers are embracing streaming alongside their record collections."

Streaming has no overtaken digital downloads as the main digital platform for music consumption, now accounting for just over a fifth (22.6%) of music consumption volume in the UK.  

The full report can be read here.