The vinyl resurgence continues with a new report saying that, for the week after Thanksgiving, the value of vinyl sales was greater than the value of digital downloads in Britain.

The U.K.’s Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) recently announced that, between November 28 and December 4, £2.4 million was spent on vinyl albums versus £2.1 million on downloads. That’s a major swing for both formats compared to the same time in 2015 with vinyl sales up 100% while downloads were down 52%.

It is the first time this has happened since the advent of the digital download with the launch of Apple’s iTunes website in the UK in 2004. The figures represent a dramatic turnaround for what was dismissed as a dead technology. It is all the more surprising because albums bought on vinyl are considerably more expensive than a download.


There is huge nostalgia for vinyl records and many people are willing to pay extra for something physical. The ERA suggested the surge in sales could be attributed to the popularity of vinyl as a Christmas gift and the growing number of retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, which stock vinyl.

Another factor is that digital sales are in decline because people are switching to streaming services, such as Spotify, which carry a monthly subscription. ERA head, Kim Bayley, said: ‘It’s not so long ago that the digital download was meant to be the future. Few would have predicted that an album format, first invented in 1948 and based on stamping a groove into a piece of plastic, would now be outselling it in 2016.’

A lot has been said about the ‘honesty’ of listening to music on vinyl with all the hiss and crackle. However, it seems a significant number of buyers see them as decoration or a fashion accessory. A poll earlier this year found that 41 per cent of people who bought a vinyl LP or single have not listened to it. Astonishingly, 7 per cent of purchasers did not even have a turntable.

Kim Bayley told the Guardian that the rise was partly due to an increase in the number of stockists of vinyl in the UK with more high street retailers now selling the format.

She said: ‘The vast majority of releases are coming out in vinyl now. It used to be that only heritage acts or niche albums would come out as a record, but now everything does – pop albums, compilations, film soundtracks, all genres.’


‘We have a new generation buying vinyl, lots of teenagers and lots of people under 25, who now want to buy their favourite artists on vinyl and have something a bit more tangible, a bit more collectible. People have become keen to support their favourite artists by buying into that ownership concept. It’s very difficult to demonstrate your love of an artist if you don’t have something to hold on to.’

The figures also showed that a price difference between the formats contributed to the statistics. The ERA points out that digital downloads are still selling in bigger numbers than vinyl, with the difference in value aided by the typically much higher cost of a vinyl product.

The music industry trade body, the BPI, says vinyl LP sales are running at a 21-year high. Its chief executive, Geoff Taylor, said: ‘Vinyl is no longer the preserve of baby boomers who grew up with the format. It now also appeals to a new generation of engaged younger fans.

‘While digital platforms provide fans instant and unlimited access to an ever-expanding cosmos of music, they can’t quite match the unique experience vinyl gives you: browsing for rare gems in your favourite record store, poring over the cover art and sleeve notes and enjoying the ritual of carefully dropping the stylus on to an LP and savouring its analogue sound.’ 


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