Vinyl sales surge again in 2020 as music fans enjoy records during lockdown

·3 min read
A customer wears a facemask while listening to a vinyl record in Soho, London (Rex Features)
A customer wears a facemask while listening to a vinyl record in Soho, London (Rex Features)

Sales of vinyl and cassettes surged once again in 2020, as music fans spent much of lockdown discovering new favourites to add to their collections.

The BPI, the organisation that represents the UK’s recorded music industry, reports Official Charts Company data showing that fans bought nearly 5 million vinyl LPs in 2020, marking a 21st century record and the highest total since the early Nineties.

Cassette sales are set to double by the end of the year, their highest level since 2003, as artists offer their music in a greater range of formats.

Both classic and contemporary artists enjoyed bigger record and tape sales, from Fleetwood Mac and AC/DC to Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga.

While streaming still accounts for four fifths of music consumption, fans appear to be increasingly looking for other ways to enjoy their favourite music.

Vinyl albums now account for almost one in five of all albums purchased in the UK, with sales generating twice as much revenue for the industry as music video streaming platforms such as YouTube.

Among the most popular vinyl records sold over the past 12 months are the classic Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Nirvana’s Nevermind, and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis.

However, more recent albums also sold well in vinyl format, including AC/DC’s new record Power Up, Ultra Mono by IDLES, and Harry Styles’s Fine Line.

Sheffield-formed band Arctic Monkeys managed to achieve one of the top-selling vinyl albums of the year, despite only releasing their Live at the Royal Albert Hall recording in December.

The BPI report noted how campaigns such as Tim Burgess’s #TimsTwitterListeningParty events on Twitter have helped draw attention to the vinyl format, along with annual events such as Record Store Day and National Album Day.

Burgess’s event, which he began during the first lockdown, has had major artists as his guests including Sir Paul McCartney, Rufus Wainwright, Pixies, Bonnie Tyler and Kylie Minogue.

“As a record collector and a fan of independent record shops, it’s great to hear that vinyl sales are doing so well – and for some of that to be put down to the listening parties is an amazing thing,” Burgess told The Independent.

“Music has helped lots of us cope with the past year – long live vinyl.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, Brit Awards and Mercury Prize, said: “In a year when all our lives have changed, music’s power to inspire has never been more evident. The immediacy and convenience of streaming make it the go-to audio format for most of our listening, but more and more fans choose to get closer to their favourite artists and albums on vinyl.”

He continued: “It’s remarkable that LP and audio tape sales should have risen at all given the challenges we’ve all faced. The surge in sales despite retail closures demonstrates the timeless appeal of collectable physical formats alongside the seamless connectivity of streaming.”

Currently, the best-selling vinyl albums of 2020 are as follows:

1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

2. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

3. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

4. Nirvana – Nevermind

5. Harry Styles – Fine Line

6. Kylie Minogue – Disco

7. AC/DC – Power Up

8. Queen – Greatest Hits

9. IDLES – Ultra Mono

10. Arctic Monkeys – Live at the Royal Albert Hall

The final BPI report for UK music consumption in 2020 will be published on 4 January 2021.

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