Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time since the 1980s

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,522   +122
Staff member
In brief: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has published its mid-year 2020 report on the state of the music industry in the US. Among the interesting revelations in the report is the fact that vinyl album sales generated more revenues than CD sales during the six-month period for the first time since the 1980s.

Per the report, vinyl sales brought in just north of $232 million in the first half of 2020 while sales of CDs fell by more than 47 percent year-over-year to $129.9 million. RIAA cited shutdown measures at retailers and live venues as the primary reason for the sharp decline in physical product sales.

That said, vinyl sales still only accounted for four percent of total music industry revenues for the period.

Unsurprisingly, streaming music continues to be the driving force of the industry. It accounted for a whopping 85 percent of total music industry revenues in the first half, or $4.8 billion. That’s up from $4.3 billion in the first half of 2019 and $3.4 billion during the first six months of 2018.

The total number of paid music subscriptions in the US, meanwhile, climbed to 72.1 million from just 58.2 million during the same period a year ago.

Image credit: Kittyman

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RedGuard

Posts: 79   +39
Not sure who needs vinyl these days when there are flacs. Must be some sort of fashion or a sentimental thing.
Might be. I, for one, am planning on getting myself one of those entry-level pick-ups in the next 2 years. Gotta show my infant the wonderful childhood I had watching vinyls spin. And he'll probably ignore it.
 
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texasrattler

Posts: 969   +424
Kinda easy to top CD sales when most major retail stores stopped selling majority in store. Where do majority of sales come from for music, streaming.
This shouldnt even be relevant news as vinyl died decades ago. Sure nostalga will always be there for some but ppl trying to make it more than CDs is a joke due to the fact CDs are barely sold anymore.

Sad times news has come to this.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,392   +5,830
Not sure who needs vinyl these days when there are flacs. Must be some sort of fashion or a sentimental thing.
Nope .... not at all. What people are finding out is that digital has it's limitations and cannot cover the complete range of sound. Not my opinion, it is a documented fact. Personally I prefer my digital music but I have heard the difference and it is real, of course to get that full range you have to hear "everything" including the little pops and hisses but as if often said .... it is what it is .....
 
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VitalyT

Posts: 5,049   +3,981
TechSpot Elite
Nope .... not at all. What people are finding out is that digital has it's limitations and cannot cover the complete range of sound. Not my opinion, it is a documented fact. Personally I prefer my digital music but I have heard the difference and it is real, of course to get that full range you have to hear "everything" including the little pops and hisses but as if often said .... it is what it is .....
FLAC-s are 100% lossless, and are well known to beat vinyl in sound quality. I believe that people who argue the opposite suffer from some sort of music-maniacal delusion.
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,309   +906
That's cool. I bought a 45 a week ago. I don't prefer the hassles of vinyl, I don't prefer the sound of vinyl and I am too cool to buy it cause vinyl is cool (for now). I bought it as a gift for my wonderful daughter who again has a turntable. Her whacked out bro-in-law ruint her first one
 

shark975

Posts: 11   +8
Not sure who needs vinyl these days when there are flacs. Must be some sort of fashion or a sentimental thing.

Digital can never exactly mimic analogue. It's 1's and 0's at core. with enough bits in theory you can better mimic the analogue curve (say, an acoustic guitar) but never perfect.

Some people claim to prefer the "warm" sound of vinyl over cold pristine digital. Is it nonsense? Probably.

Probably was just placebo effect but personally I never loved CD's, cassette tapes seemed better to me back when physical was a thing (though much less convenient).

Anyways nobody cares about how pristine the digital is, that was settled long ago when 128 kb MP3's ran CD's out of town because of convenience.
 
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PEnnn

Posts: 439   +372
Yeah, people seem to miss the scratches, the skips and the dusty, bent stylus....all of which allegedly sound better than FLAC. LOL!!

And furthermore, people are buying less CDs for years. Actually, since that thing took over, what was its name.....ah yes: DIGITAL DOWNLOADS!!
 
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trparky

Posts: 804   +760
FLAC along with a high enough sampling rate could bring digital sound to within a hair's breadth of vinyl. It all comes down to having enough data to represent each and every step and nuance of the waveform that represents the sound.

44.1 kHz is the standard today but perhaps if you doubled that thus increasing the amount of data used to represent the sound, it would become closer to that of vinyl.
 

TheBigFatClown

Posts: 811   +304
"CD sales were hit hard by the pandemic"

Ummm......what??????? That's a hilarious comment. Please write up a full paragraph explaining how you got to that conclusion. Or was that just a sarcastic/joke comment that went right over my head?
 
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Jroc187

Posts: 49   +30
LOL 320kbs mp3 sounds so close to FLAC that 99% of people can't tell the difference. Im not kidding download a FLAC song and compare it to the MP3 file of the same song.
 
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General Sam

Posts: 63   +14
Not sure who needs vinyl these days when there are flacs. Must be some sort of fashion or a sentimental thing.
I've seen in some shops vinyls being displayed on walls and such, definitely think its more of an artwork thing now rather than actual listening.
 
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kimo1

Posts: 94   +153
LOL 320kbs mp3 sounds so close to FLAC that 99% of people can't tell the difference. Im not kidding download a FLAC song and compare it to the MP3 file of the same song.
If it sounds the same, then you don't have decent enough hardware to utilize what FLAC has to offer. And/or knowledge how to get best sound out of hardware you own. And/or you're lacking biological capability to process audio. Or maybe you got paid to advertise MP3.
But yeah, it's kinda true, lots of people just settle with crappy MP3, rarely demanding for better quality.
 
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NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 187   +162
Not sure who needs vinyl these days when there are flacs. Must be some sort of fashion or a sentimental thing.
Why would anyone need a restored ‘68 Pontiac GTO? Same logic. Nothing like feeling the torque of 8 cylinders firing in sync. Nothing like “feeling” the sound of vinyl pushing through my Bose 901’s. Digital just can’t recreate that. No more than my Tesla can recreate the torque of a GTO.
 

CrisisDog

Posts: 175   +58
I collect vinyl for songs or artists I like. It’s a nostalgic hobby, much like keeping around my old Amiga and Apple II computers...
 

SNGX1275

Posts: 10,580   +445
I don't doubt vinyl can surpass the sound quality of flac, but I believe that is only possible a very few number of times. The vinyl has to be well mastered and unplayed (or played very little). I remember back in the early 90s my parents had some album on both vinyl and CD and it wasn't even close to the same sound quality on the same stereo system, the CD was so much better.

But I don't know how many people that actually own/play vinyls try to argue their sound is better, I think thats more of an argument for those that just want to have an opinion online.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 86   +39
Paper is so much nicer than screen - the touch , the smell.

Given that - a lot depends on the master - many early CDs were poorly mastered -some later ones suffered from compression wars - so extremely tiring to listen to .
Vinyl tends to roll off at the high end - so they sound warmer - not that brightness some feel painful .

Still the comment about 0s and 1s vs analogue is funny - as very few systems are all analogue .
My opinion 1st it's your choice - given that Vinyl appeals to people's love of fetish . A good master/production will sound great on any medium - given clean powerful amps and good speakers
 

trgz

Posts: 315   +95
I remember the CD onslaught and people saying how much better they were, but many were comparing the then new digital medium to crappy record decks; the same can be said of now with people comparing streaming services or crappy MP3 players against the new decks out there now - how many of these people actually owned a decent CD transport?
 
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Jroc187

Posts: 49   +30
If it sounds the same, then you don't have decent enough hardware to utilize what FLAC has to offer. And/or knowledge how to get best sound out of hardware you own. And/or you're lacking biological capability to process audio. Or maybe you got paid to advertise MP3.
But yeah, it's kinda true, lots of people just settle with crappy MP3, rarely demanding for better quality.
I have great headphones, so I downloaded some FLAC music files and compared them to Spotify premium. Sorry, there was literally no difference and if there was I did not notice, and if you do it's just in your head. even dug up my old hard drive with thousands of mp3s still can't tell the difference, This is a case of just people like you believing in something that is a lie, Here is a test that does 3 different versions of a song and asks witch sounds better. https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality
 

trgz

Posts: 315   +95
I have great headphones, so I downloaded some FLAC music files and compared them to Spotify premium. Sorry, there was literally no difference and if there was I did not notice, and if you do it's just in your head. even dug up my old hard drive with thousands of mp3s still can't tell the difference, This is a case of just people like you believing in something that is a lie, Here is a test that does 3 different versions of a song and asks witch sounds better. https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality
Just a quick ask - define 'great' headphones
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,029   +2,554
Nope .... not at all. What people are finding out is that digital has it's limitations and cannot cover the complete range of sound. Not my opinion, it is a documented fact. Personally I prefer my digital music but I have heard the difference and it is real, of course to get that full range you have to hear "everything" including the little pops and hisses but as if often said .... it is what it is .....
no, it's not a documented "fact". why even lie about it? just say it like it really is: some people like the old school sound.
 

Jroc187

Posts: 49   +30
Just a quick ask - define 'great' headphones
This is a trap, I'm going to tell you what I use, and you will ignore it, and scream that your $1000 plus headphones sound so much better, but they don't, you just think it because you paid more. This is what I use SENNHEISER HD 599
 
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