Vinyl is often associated with nerdy, graying men who spend their Saturdays rummaging through dusty record stores for obscure first pressings by the Rolling Stones. Among the top ten best-selling records of the past decade were Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse, exactly two women. Otherwise men’s eastgia: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. But 2021 could be the year in which records finally get a young and female label glued on.
By now, word should have gotten around: Vinyl is back. Last year, the music industry in Germany was able to look forward to over 4.2 million records sold. An increase of almost one million copies compared to the previous year. Sales have increased tenfold in just one decade. Admittedly, what was almost extinct can already record enormous growth with a little hype. But in the USA, the sales of records in 2020 have overtaken that of CDs for the first time since 1986.
Pop phenomenon Billie Eilish is currently conquering the charts all over the world with her recently released album “Happier Than Ever”. According to the count of the service MRC Data, the share of 73,000 records sold in the USA alone would have been enough for number one. Even more anachronistic are the designated 10,000 cassettes sold (Maybe Billie Eilish will bring back the good old shellac record!).
Billie Eilish can’t get past Taylor Swift
How can that be? Streaming accounts for over 80 percent of the music business in the U.S. – physical recordings only nine percent. Some observers explain Eilish’s vinyl success with the fact that the 19-year-old has triggered a generation-spanning enthusiasm, comparable to Beatlemania.
However, it is doubtful that the joy of buying is solely due to the demographically heterogeneous following. It is more likely that young music fans in particular have invested the money they saved on concert tickets due to the pandemic in high-quality sound carriers. With “Happier Than Ever” they were able to choose between eight color variants of the records three months before release.
However, Billie Eilish couldn’t get past Taylor Swift and her album “Evermore”. The 31-year-old US singer sold 102,000 copies in the first week after the vinyl release at the end of May. In doing so, it set a new record for the largest record sales in a week since the recording of sales figures began in 1991.
On the subject of this year’s Record Store Day, a survey showed that record buyers are also becoming younger and more feminine. So the music world finally seems to continue to turn, albeit much slower than with 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.