In the 2020’s, vinyl is king. For the first time since 1987, last year saw unit sales of vinyl records beat out those of CDs, finally offering data to back up those music fans who always claimed “vinyl is better.”
It had been coming really, with sales of vinyl steadily increasing over the last decade, culminating in record sales in 2022. According to the RIAA, vinyl records earned a whopping $1.2 billion last year, compared to a comparatively paltry $483 million for CDs.
Record Store Day, just celebrated last month, has become a big day on the music calendar, with people scouring their local store for hidden gems and dusty classics.
Did you know, though, that there’s a strong chance the person perusing those vinyl stacks beside you actually doesn’t intend on listening to whatever vinyl record they buy that day?
According to new research from Luminate (as per Music Business Worldwide), a music sales data company, only 50% of consumers who bought vinyl in the past 12 months actually own a record player. That means, of course, that half of vinyl buyers reportedly don’t own a record player.
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Surely not? When Twitter behemoth Pop Crave posted the news, reaction was decidedly mixed, with music purists battling it out with newer vinyl fans.
“Are you kidding me leave the vinyl to the people with record players,” blasted one Twitter user, who then added, “I’m looking at you Swifties in particular.”
“So I can never find the vinyls I want at the store because people who don’t even own record players are buying them up,” bemoaned someone else.
50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months in the US don’t own a record player, a new study from Luminate reveals.
🔗: https://t.co/d7p0rMFKLV pic.twitter.com/2QZku40hFK
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 29, 2023
As many others pointed out, though, enjoyment of vinyl could be found in other ways, such as using stylish vinyl artwork as wall decorations.
“The vinyl I’ve purchased was more for adding to a collection more than anything else,” someone admitted, and really half the fun of going to a record store is finding the ideal record to add to one’s collection.
In fact, if you type “vinyl record player” into Twitter, a remarkable amount of tweets will show up featuring people showing off their vinyl purchases will laughing at not having their own record player.
This isn’t a new development. In 2016, a survey conducted by ICM Unlimited for the BBC found that almost half of vinyl buyers never even listened to their purchases, while 7% said they didn’t own a record player at all.
Is there a right or wrong way to consume vinyl? It’s aestheticism vs immersion; it’s “buy-to-own rather than buy-to-listen,” as someone noted in a 2020 interview.
And as long as artists are making some much-needed money during a dire time for the music industry, that’s really all that matters. Let anyone buy vinyl records – yes, including Swifties – and just pray that Adele doesn’t bring the industry to another staggering halt anytime soon.
They be buying them as wall decorations just like me pic.twitter.com/DGZbFWCqVA
— gab (is meeting taylor at midnight!!) (@gabishottt) April 29, 2023
So I can never find the vinyls I want at the store because people who don’t even own record players are buying them up.
— Lincoln Fultz (@CreepyShoes53) April 29, 2023
imagine buying vinyls and not having a record player
— mansur (@arikpcat) April 29, 2023
Vinyl really inflates sales these days 😭 Fans buy vinyl just as merch and then stream the albums anyways, contributing multiple sales to every album their fave releases.
— gslay (@ari_grandslay23) April 29, 2023