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Vinyl Outsells CDs for the First Time Since the Mid-’80s

Customers wait in line to purchase special edition vinyl's records at the Shuga Records store during the Record Store Day in Chicago on April 13, 2019. - Record Store Day was founded in 2007 and is now celebrated at stores around the world, with hundreds of recording and other artists participating in the day by making special appearances, performances, meet and greets with their fans, the holding of fund raisers for community non-profits, and the issuing of special vinyl releases. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A new report from the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) found that vinyl album revenues of $232 million accounted for 62% of total physical revenues (CDs, vinyl), marking the first time vinyl exceeded CD sales since the mid-1980s.

By comparison, $129.9 million was spent on compact discs.

That said, vinyl sales still only accounted for 4% of total recorded music revenues.

In total, revenue for the music business increased by 5.6%, totaling $5.7 billion in the first half of 2020, due to a growth in streaming revenue (paid subscriptions were up 24% and overall streaming revenue was up 14%).

“These are historically difficult times: the live music sector is shut down; studio recording is limited, and millions of Americans are out of work across the broader economy,” RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said. “Despite all the challenges from the pandemic, one thing clearly hasn’t changed – fans still love music.”

The first of three Record Store Day “Drop” provided a huge boost to vinyl sales. Billboard reported that for the week ending on Sept. 3, vinyl sales eclipsed 800,000 units sold. Two more “Drops” will take place on Sept. 26 and Oct. 26

In the week ending Dec. 26, 2019, Billboard reported that weekly vinyl album sales topped 1 million for the first time in the Nielsen era, thanks to Harry Styles and others.

In the first half of 2020, streaming music revenues — paid versions of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc. — grew 12% to $4.8 billion in the first half of 2020.

The full RIAA report can be viewed here.