Vinyl set for billion dollar year as more people return to records

Signs that a decline in interest is coming thereafter, however...

Vinyl set for billion dollar year as more people return to records

A fresh-faced Tom Jones digging vinyl in 1965. Picture by PA Archive PA Archive/PA Images

Global vinyl sales are expected to break the $1 billion mark for the first time this century, according to a new report from Deloitte.

The financial services giant says that the market for records will see its seventh consecutive year double-digit growth, with around 40 million new expected to be shifted over the next 12 months.

The resurgence in the musical medium was properly solidified in 2016, with the popularity of the LP hitting a 25-year high. David Bowie was last year's biggest-selling vinyl artist, with his Mercury Prize-shortlisted final album Blackstar being the 2016's most popular LP.

It remains a small part of the business, however – it is expected to account for roughly 7% of the global music industry's projected $15bn earnings and under one-fifth of physical music sales.

While it has been a good news story for a music industry suffering widespread declines in revenue elsewhere, Deloitte also warns that after this year's high-water mark, there are signs that the appeal will start to wane with consumers.  

Paul Lee, the company's head of technology, media and telecoms, told FT that fleeting fashion and nostalgia trends have been driving performance:

"In 1981, over 1bn albums were sold. In 2017 it will be around 40m. This is not the resurgence that is portrayed. It is a blip."

He points to the 6% fall in vinyl sales in the US in the first half of 2016, compared with the same period the year previous, as evidence that the less hardcore listeners out there are starting to lose interest. He also cited a BBC poll that nearly half of the people who had bought a record hadn't listened to it within a month, with 7% not evening owning a turntable.

"My gut feeling is that it could peak this year," he said.