Vinyl sales saw record-setting increase in 2020
Music fans purchasing albums as vinyl records has become more popular in recent years. But sales in 2020 were record-setting.
“I think it’s dedicating yourself to something. It’s fashionable. It’s appealing to have a collection. It’s appealing to support your artists in a way that you’d like,” says Rutgers University freshman Sebastian Denis.
Denis was shopping at the Princeton Record Exchange to add to his vinyl record collection. The store sold 3,800 new vinyl records in December – an unprecedented number in the digital era, according to owner Jon Lambert.
“At times, I feel like I’m in the ‘80s again. But there’s something about these times and that sort of shopping and that sort of experience,” Lambert says.
While it was unclear how much of a role the pandemic played in the sale increase, it is a fact that buying habits have changed. Vinyl outsold CDs in 2020 for the first time in nearly 35 years. There was more than a quarter-billion dollars' worth of sales in the first half of 2020 alone.
While it is a small fraction of total music sales, the increase is making a difference for a New Jersey pressing plant.
“We’re busier than we’ve ever been,” says Sean Rutkowski, of Independent Record Pressing.
Rutkowski says that the Bordentown facility pressed nearly 2 million records last year, the most ever. He says that he believes that people have turned to music during the pandemic, just as artists have looked to earn income where they can.
“Because artists aren’t out there touring to the same degree, everyone is really focusing on their physical merch,” he says.
Vinyl records comprise about 4% of total sales of recorded music.