Vinyl records outsell CDs for first time since 1980s; Roanoke music store owner not surprised

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For the first time since the 1980s, vinyl records have outsold CDs in the United States.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), vinyl records have racked up more than $232 million in sales within the first six months of 2020. Meanwhile, CDs brought in just shy of $130 million.

There is a resurgence in popularity of vinyl records after cassette tapes and CDs became the preferred methods of listening to music more than 30 years ago.

A downtown Roanoke music store owner is not surprised by this trend.

“We’ve got people who are looking to complete a collection, people looking for specific pressings of a certain record, a different cover,” said Ian Little, the co-owner of The Vintage Vault.

Ian Little is the co-owner of The Vintage Vault in downtown Roanoke.

Little says since the store opened in 2015, records have always outsold CDs. He estimates for every 10 to 15 vinyl records bought, he manages to sell just one CD.

Little says there are customers ranging across the board who have very specific interests in records.

“I think people just prefer the old style album jacket,” he said. “It’s more fun to look at it while you’re listening to it. A record has a good smell. There’s little kids. There are older couples. There’s just all kinds of varieties of people buying music and looking for records.”

Vinyl records vs. CDs: Statistics from the RIAA

  • Vinyl record revenue up 4% in 2020
  • CD revenue down 48% in 2020
  • Physical vinyl record sales dropped 23% in 2020

The RIAA reports part of the reason why physical sales declined is due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting people’s visits to music stores.

Little thinks CDs will always have value and not become obsolete.

He says there are still many people who look for CD box sets, special editions, and work sold by a sought after artist.

According to the RIAA, music streaming drives in the most revenue for the industry. It is responsible for more than 85% of music industry revenue.

So far in 2020, music industry sales have grown 5.6% for $5.7 billion.

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