'Vinyl's very healthy and still growing': Key Q1 insights on the physical music sector

'Vinyl's very healthy and still growing': Key Q1 insights on the physical music sector

Despite the uncertainty caused by HMV's well-publicised woes at the end of last year, vinyl sales grew in the UK in the first three months of 2019, as revealed in the latest issue of Music Week.

With the chain placed into administration late in December last year and not bought by Canadian Doug Putman of Sunrise Records until February, 2019, Q1 results for physical sales have taken something of a beating, dropping as a sector by 19.8%.

However, it seems vinyl managed to weather the retail storm. Not only did the format reverse a 5.5% decline in the final quarter of 2018, but it has increased sales between January and March this year to climb up 5% year-on-year.

“With the turmoil that went on at HMV, the physical numbers are decent,” said David Hawkes, MD of Universal Music UK’s commercial division. “Certainly, the independent retail sector has had a storming Q1, they’ve picked up some of that lost business through HMV."

Many labels stopped servicing HMV until the new ownership was settled. Putman has since spoken to Music Week about the chain's strong relationships with suppliers.

The industry worked very hard with the new owners of HMV to try and ensure continuity

David Hawkes

Hawkes said: "The industry worked very hard with the new owners of HMV to try and ensure continuity, keep as many stores open as possible and maintain stock levels, and they have done that pretty successfully."

With Record Store Day 2019 having taken place on Saturday (April 13), Warner Music UK’s SVP, commercial Derek Allen also agreed the format is likely to enjoy a good year.

“The vinyl market’s very healthy and still growing, albeit by smaller amounts,” he said. “There’s more focus being put on that by the existing players in the market that service physical. I know that’s part of HMV’s strategy going forward and that seems to make sense."

He added: "Amazon are still very much a big player in that space, the indie sector is still doing well, and Record Store Day always gives the physical market and the independent sector a huge boost. So I wouldn’t like to say it’s in rude health in a declining market, but it seems stable.”

Get the latest issue of Music Week for our full analysis of Q1's results, including artists and record company market share, plus the biz's predictions for how a revived HMV will impact the market. Subscribers can read the analysis here.

Plus, read our take on this year's Record Store Day, and join in the debate as to whether HMV should be allowed to take part in the annual shop celebration next year.

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