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Vinyl Sales Continue to Soar – And Rock Has a Lot to Do With It

MRC Data’s mid-year report shows rock fans are playing a major role in the vinyl resurgence…

By Paul Marszalek

The return of vinyl albums isn’t exactly new; the format has experienced 15 consecutive years of growth. But the last two years have been notable, with vinyl hitting a tipping point – posting sales numbers high enough to drag big box retailers back into the game.

According to MRC Data (a recent spinoff from Nielsen), 19.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the first half of 2021. That’s ten million more units than the first half of 2020. Not only is that a 108% increase, but it topped 18.9 million CDs sold.

Record Store Day, started as almost a last-ditch effort to save music retailers has grown increasingly formidable. Record Store Day Drop #1 in June helped move 1.279 million vinyl albums that week – 942,000 of those at indie retail.

Who’s buying? Everyone, as evidenced by sales driven by releases from Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and Taylor Swift.

But one of the largest constituencies of buyers is rock fans, who still love physical music products.

When viewing album consumption by musical format, on-demand streams unsurprisingly dominate across the board. But just north of 20% of all rock album consumption comes from physical formats. This compares with an overall average of 8.8%.

Only jazz fans consume more music via physical formats, at roughly 27%.

See the breakouts below (Click on image for a larger view).

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