Note: This post is an updated synthesis of a two-part article published on Santa Rosa Records earlier this year.
The great vinyl resurgence
Even with the prevalence of digital music platforms and music streaming services, vinyl records are making a huge comeback — and seem to be here to stay.
Companies such as eBay and Discogs have strong data that seems to prove there has been a recent surge in vinyl sales — and popularity as a whole.
Sales for both brand new and used vinyl records have gone up by the millions.
Note that these figures don’t count offline sales — and also don’t seem to be slowing down here anytime soon. Data shows that sales for vinyl started its meteoric rise back in 2011, and has continued to rise since — thanks to collectors and radical hipsters alike!
Albums sold on vinyl saw double digit sales growth in the US last year, according to Genius. Vinyl sales grew by just shy of 12 percent from 8.6 to 9.7 million sales. It wasn’t quite the growth seen in digital streaming, but it’s still quite impressive for a medium that’s several decades old.
Some of the resurgence may be due to the fact that the quality of sound on vinyl and cassette is just so much warmer compared to music played online or even from a CD.
Nostalgia is in. Or maybe it always has been. The nostalgic value in the industry of music seems to be set in stone for the time being, but we’ll wait and see how this all plays out.
The cassette tape revolution
The 90s is also making a comeback, not only in style and fashion, but also in the form of cassette tapes.
These little pieces of plastic and magnetic tape have been resurfacing as of late, with some major stores carrying cassettes and cassette players despite the continued rising popularity of streaming platforms.
Cassettes still saw double digit sales growth in the US last year, according to Genius. Cassette sales grew by almost 19 percent from 99,400 to 118,200 copies sold in the US.
Bands such as Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins have been releasing their records on casette tapes, and surprisingly, they’ve been selling out from pre-sales alone.
Vinyl is also on the rise — but data reveals that vinyl is more popular among older records, while cassettes are more popular among newer albums. Meanwhile, CDs are dead — if you didn’t already know.
People adore cassettes because they produce that beautiful analog sound — a sound that our ears are made to listen to and fall in love with. It’s that nostalgic bug we just can’t quite seem to kick.
We might be living in some sort of dystopian future, but some things from the past are starting to make a comeback in a real, and physical way.
It seems the human race as a whole is yearning for more physicality.
The data says one thing — but we often forget about the underground world of music. There are a plethora of indie bands out there who are selling their ‘limited edition’ home-dubbed cassettes and vinyl records at live shows — off the books of course.
This is all great news for the world of music.
In closing, as long as there are introverted audiophiles, hopeless romantics, and loyal fans out there who simply want to support their favorite local artist — we don’t feel vinyl records or cassette tapes are going anywhere in the near future.2