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Sales revenue of vinyl in the UK set to eclipse CDs for the first time in decades

Sales of vinyl in the UK set to eclipse CDs for the first time in decades
(Image credit: Michael Hurcomb/Corbis)

The vinyl resurgence is showing no signs of slowing down, with new figures released by the British Phonographic Industry revealing that sales revenue from the format are on course to eclipse revenue generated by CD sales for the first time since 1987.

The BPI report that vinyl sales increased their revenue to £86.5 million in the UK last year – a rise of 30.5%, with CD sales falling by 18.5%. While CDs still managed to generate £115m, this year could see revenue from vinyl sales to surpass that of CDs for the first time since the 1980s.

Chief Executive of the BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize Geoff Taylor said: “Vinyl’s exceptional performance despite retail lockdowns confirms its role as a long-term complement to music streaming. 2021 is likely to be the year in which revenues from LPs overtake those from CDs for the first time in well over three decades – since 1987. 

“In addition to the immediacy and convenience of streaming, fans want to get closer to the artists they love by owning a tangible creation, and more and more of them are discovering how vinyl, or lovingly created CD box-sets, can enhance their experience of music.”

The best-selling vinyl titles in 2020 included AC/DC’s comeback album Power Up, Fleetwood Mac classic Rumours and Idles’ new record Ultra Mono.

The BPI, who represent the association of independent and major record labels, also report the UK’s recorded music revenue rose by 3.8% in 2020 – reaching 1.1 billion. The vast majority of the cash was generated by streaming, which grew 15.4% to rake in £736.5m. Downloaded music declined overall by 25.1%. 

In terms of actual numbers, CDs are still outselling vinyl records in the UK by an estimated factor of around 5:1. It remains the country's dominant physical format.