Vinyl sales surpass 9 million for the first time in 20 years as streaming breaks record

vinyl outpaces digital downloads rip
This decade is only halfway over, but it is well on its way to becoming the decade of vinyl records. For the fourth consecutive year, vinyl sales in the United States hit record levels, surpassing 9 million units for the first time in over 20 years.

WSJ reports that Nielsen Soundscan, which began tracking vinyl sales in 1991, indicates 9.2 million vinyl albums were sold in 2014, a 53 percent increase on the 6.06 million units sold in 2013. Vinyl sales have increased by over 220 percent since the start of the decade. The 9.2 million in sales exceeded earlier estimates of over 7 million.

The highest selling vinyl album of 2014 was Jack White’s Lazaretto, with sales of 87,000; a 56 percent increase on the 49,000 copies Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories sold in 2013.

The discontinuing of the Apple Classic iPod in 2014 — once a standard for digital music consumption — is as good a metaphor as any for the mercurial decline of digital downloads. After experiencing its first year-to-year decrease, digital song sales dipped again, this time by 12.6 percent to 1.1 billion from 1.26 billion last year. If this rate of decrease continues, digital song sales could fall below 1 billion for the first time since 2007.

Full album sales continued to descend in 2014, experiencing a 14 percent decrease over prior year with 257 million albums sold. The top five albums in 2014 were Taylor Swift’s 1989, the Frozen soundtrack, Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour, Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas To Me and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Those five albums sold roughly 10.44 million copies combined, accounting for over four percent of the 257 million total albums sold in 2014. There were well over 125 albums released in 2014, so as album sales continue to decline, the gaps in album sales continues to widen.

The resurgence of vinyl is music to hipster ears, but needle scratching torture for record labels and pressing plants. Existing record pressing machines spent decades sitting dormant or were closed down entirely during the rise of CD’s in the 1990s. As a result, no new record pressers have been made since the early 1980’s. In December 2014, record label Fat Possum started Memphis Record Pressing after having thousands of records go on backorder due to the difficulty of meeting demands and international shipping.

Vinyl is outsmarting father time with every spin.

Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.

Has it really been 17 years? The past, present, and future of the Xbox

From DirectX Box to 720, it's been a long, strange trip for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. Here is what happened, from its odd beginnings to the rumored Scarlett console with streaming.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Home Theater

Sony releases wireless turntable, new soundbar amid slew of 2019 audio devices

Sony has announced pricing and availability for its 2019 home audio lineup, including a brand-new wireless turntable, a new soundbar, and a slew of Bluetooth speakers that range from small and portable to huge and cupholder-laden.
Movies & TV

From comedies to biopics, these are the best movies about music and musicians

The best movies about music range from hilarious comedies to powerful and informative biopics that illuminate the world of sonic expression from all possible angles. Here are our current favorites.
Home Theater

Puro’s kids headphones don’t just sound great, they help prevent hearing damage

Puro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet headphones are a pair of noise-canceling over-ears that are designed for young listeners, allowing them to jam out to their favorite tunes, but limiting volume to avoid long-term hearing damage.

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Home Theater

Amazon’s free Spotify competitor is here. Just ask Alexa

Just ask Alexa to play your favorite song. Amazon has launched a free, ad-based music streaming service to compete with Spotify's free tier on its popular Echo devices, aiming to bolster subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited.

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. What's changed, and should you subscribe?

Thanks to Google, YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium. We explain what exactly a YouTube Premium subscription gets you, how much it costs, and break down if it's a good choice for you.

Get some bud-green Master and Dynamic wireless headphones for $50 off this 420

Looking for the best possible audio experience to pair with your favorite herb? Master and Dynamic has announced a special 420 edition of its gorgeous on-ear and over-ear headphones, which will be available for $50 off this 4/20.

The best new music this week: Tallest Man On Earth, Cage the Elephant, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: The Tallest Man On Earth, Cage The Elephant, Lizzo, Pivot Gang, and Sad Planets.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek forms, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

The best MP3 players of 2019 cram tons of music into a small package

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? Don't sweat it. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? No worries. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.