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Vinyl outsold CDs in U.S. for first time in 30 years in 2021

The rate of vinyl sales in the US grew by 51% from 2020

Vinyl sales in 2021 topped CDs in the United States for the first time in 30 years.

According to data from Billboard, 38% of all album sales in the country last year were in vinyl format, accounting for over 50% of all physical album sales. This marked the first time more vinyls were sold than CDs in the US since 1991.

In one year, the rate of vinyl sales grew by 51% to 41.7 million, with female artists topping the charts. The biggest sellers were Adele’s ‘30’ — which was named the biggest-selling album of the year in the US — Olivia Rodrigo‘s debut ‘Sour’ and Taylor Swift‘s ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’. 

The figures paint a similar picture here in the UK. According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), more than five million vinyl records were sold this year, an increase of 8% since 2020. This makes up 23% of all albums sold in the UK — also the highest figure in three decades — and marks the 14th year in a row that vinyl sales have been on an upward trend.  

According to a survey conducted by MRC Data last year, Gen Z are responsible for driving the sales. When 4,041 individuals aged over 13 were questioned on their music consumption, 15% of those within the Gen Z demographic claimed to have purchased vinyl records in the previous 12 months compared to only 11% of millenials. 

The news comes as the vinyl industry has experienced ongoing issues meeting the spike in demand, with many artists delaying releases. A new pressing plant is set to open in Middlesbrough to help reach targets. 

You can revisit DJ Mag’s feature investigating whether manufacturing delays could mean the end of the vinyl resurgence here.