Taylor Swift’s fans have proven once again they are a force to be reckoned with as they have helped propel the amount spent on vinyl records above CDs. This is the first time vinyls have outsold CDs since the 1980’s when the likes of Rick Astley, T’Pau and Pet Shop Boys topped the charts.
The high sales of the vinyl for Swift’s latest release is no surprise as it has been dominating charts, breaking records, and even crashed Spotify when Midnights released in November 2022 ahead of becoming the most streamed artist, and most streamed album, in a single day on the platform. Swift became the only artist in history to claim all top ten entries on the Billboard Hot 100 in a single week.
The singer’s fans, also known as ‘Swifties’, have made her tenth album the UK’s biggest selling-vinyl record of the century, and with that have pushed annual revenue made by the sale of vinyl album sales above CD sales for the first time since 1987.
CD sales have seen declines over the years with sales peaking at 2.45bn globally in 2000 just as digital music emerged, as well as the more recent launch of streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music which have redefined the ever changing landscape of music.
However, the classic LP vinyl has been seeing a continuous rise in sales. 2022 will be the 15th consecutive year that sales are expected to grow. Sales are expected to hit 5.5 million this year, the most sales since 1990. Of that total, 80,000 were copies of Midnights, which is the most of any album in a calendar year this century.
Collecting vinyls has been a niche hobby for many over the years, once again growing in popularity more recently. What started as a pursuit of older music fans seeking out collectible editions of the albums closest to their hearts from artists like The Beatles, Bowie and Pink Floyd, has now attracted the attention of younger generations of fans who have taken a liking to the retro music format.
Kim Bayley, the chief executive of the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) spoke on the continuous growth of the vinyl renaissance saying: “It’s a watershed moment for the entire music industry. After the CD came along and pretty much wiped out the vinyl business, few of us would have believed a renaissance like this was possible.”
Vinyl sales were also one of the few parts of the music industry that saw growth throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with fans trying to fill the void of live music with live records in their homes. According to ERA, revenues from vinyl album sales rose 23% to £135.6m, while CD sales continued to fall, shrinking by 3.9% to £150m in 2021.