The growth of vinyl records has only gone up since its comeback in the early 2000s, and it’s expected to only increase in popularity.
Storeowners Earl Mollette and Steve Baron can see that trend continuing. Both have stores that sell CDs and vinyl. According to an article published by Rolling Stone, vinyl records are expected to outsell CDs in the near future — for the first time since 1986.
“At first, we were sure it would be a short fad,” said Baron, owner of CD Central in Lexington. “We weren’t sure if it was coming back in a significant way. Very little was coming out on vinyl.”
CD Central started in 1995 as an independent CD store. It added vinyl records to its inventory in 2005 at the beginning of records making a comeback. At that time, they had no idea the growth records would have in the music industry.
“Now we have gotten to the point where over half of our business is vinyl,” said Baron. “It’s been a very significant product for us.”
According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2018 mid-year report, CD sales were declining and record sales were growing. Vinyl sales comprised more than a third of the revenue for physical releases. The trend has continued into 2019.
“(I expected) it to come back,” said Mollette, owner of Time Warp in Ashland. “I truly think they just sound better. Price on record players has come down and technology has gotten better. It’s easier to get the stuff to listen to them on.”
Records accounted for 4% of revenue generated for the music industry in the first six months of 2019.
“I think it’s true (vinyl will outsell CDs),” said Baron. “I don’t know if vinyl sales will keep going up like they have been, but they are a significant part of the music business. I’m happy about it and we need to be prepared that it won’t be on this crazy upward trajectory forever.”
Vinyl records earned $224.1 million and CD sales earned $247.9 million in the first half of 2019, according to Rolling Stone.
Vinyl sold 8.6 million units where as CDs sold 18.6 million units. Rolling Stone said the revenue grew by 12.8% in the second half of 2018 and 12.9% in the first half of 2019.
“The number of being records being sold now is pretty phenomenal. No one would have expected for it to get this far. I certainly wouldn’t have,” said Baron.
Baron said in his store the sales between vinyl and CDs are about even. Their sales are 60/40 with vinyl outselling the CDs.
“CDs are getting harder (to sale) by the day. It’s definitely records,” Mollette said.
Mollette opened Time Warp in March. He has been a collecting vinyl for the last 10 years.
“Digital music just isn’t as good, and if you really like music then you should try vinyl. It’s getting cheaper by the day because it’s more attainable,” said Mollette.
Baron said the article from Rolling Stone was insightful for those in the business.
The cost for CDs is much lower than cost of vinyl.
“A new release for a CD is about $10 to $15 and vinyl is $15 to $25,” Baron said.
Vinyl has been a big product for independent stores like CD Central and Time Warp.
“I think (vinyl) is the way music is supposed to be listened to,” said Mollette.