Vinyl sales have continued on a steady path upward so far this year, but the biggest selling record for 2015 to this point isn’t what you might expect. Taking top honors thus far in 2015 is the mega-hit 1989, from none other than the queen of pop, country, and social media, Taylor Swift. While the record is a certified multi-platinum blockbuster, Swifties don’t exactly fit into the usual vinyl mold.
According to Nielsen Music’s midyear report (via Billboard), 5.6 million records have been sold year-to-date, a figure which projects to lead to the eighth consecutive year of growth in the aging physical format.
Swift beat more vinyl-friendly, alternative artists atop the list this year, including Sufjan Stevens (Carrie & Lowell), Arctic Monkeys (2013’s AM), and Father John Misty (I Love You Honeybear). The pop star didn’t blow away her competition, selling just two thousand more records (34,000) than Stevens. But her success on the format definitely shows that Swift fans aren’t just screaming teenage girls. Then again, it’s also worth noting that more stores are likely to carry Swifts massive album — on vinyl, or otherwise — as opposed to, say, Father John Misty’s latest which hit the list at #9 with 22,000 copies sold.
Further, the number of 1989 vinyl records sold is just a drop in the bucket considering that it’s sold 1.3 million albums across formats in 2015. For artists like Stevens (30 percent) and Father John Misty (29.6 percent), their vinyl sales represent a much bigger portion of their total album sales.
Other best-selling vinyl records this year include Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color (26,000), Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour (23,000), the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack (22,000) and two vintage records: Miles’ Davis Kind of Blue (23,000) and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (23,000).
While vinyl sales are on the rise, overall album sales certainly aren’t, dropping 4 percent year-over-year, with 116.1 million sold. You can likely put the blame on streaming services for that continuing trend. In fact, while physical sales outside of vinyl continue to plummet, Spotify, Rdio, Tidal, and the new kid on the block, Apple Music, all got some good news from the mid-year report: On-demand streaming is up 92 percent from mid-year 2014 to reach 135.2 billion streams so far this year.
While all other mediums are losing ground, the oldest and newest formats in vinyl and streaming respectively continue to gain momentum, further proving the future holds a place for both nostalgia, and convenience. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift’s 1989 — which was only recently released for streaming consumption via Apple Music, continues to prove it can’t be stopped, no matter the format.
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