Ahead of this week's anticipated Record Store Day boost, vinyl sales are already up 15% in 2023

Ahead of this week's anticipated Record Store Day boost, vinyl sales are already up 15% in 2023

As the UK celebrated vinyl once again at the weekend’s Record Store Day (April 22), Music Week can reveal that the format has already experienced a sales surge in 2023. 

Record Store Day took place on Saturday (April 22) for its 16th edition - a period which coincides with the revival of the vinyl format. The 1975 were ambassadors and released a double LP, Live With the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, limited to 2,500 copies.

“In 2007 there were less than 200,000 vinyl units sold in the UK and now we're over 5.5 million, so you can definitely see that massive turnaround since Record Store Day began,” said Megan Page, RSD coordinator at the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA)

Page said the event has played a key role in vinyl’s fortunes, an opportunity seized by labels.

“Record shops coming together and asking for these exclusives, celebrating the art of vinyl, was the catalyst for people to take more notice of [vinyl] and take it a bit more seriously,” said Page.

Vinyl album sales reached 5.5 million units during 2022, the 15th consecutive year of growth for the format, according to Official Charts Company data. 

For the first snapshot of 2023, Music Week can reveal that vinyl LP sales increased by 14.7% year-on-year in Q1 to 1,322,977 units. That compares to year-on-year growth of 6.7% in Q1 2022.

Issues with production capacity for vinyl have actually restricted growth for the format, although that situation has improved.

“That's what we're hearing, that the pressure’s easing off a bit, so that's really helped with demand and getting things landing on time,” said Page.

With 20,800 copies sold on vinyl in Q1, Lana Del Rey's Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (Polydor) is the biggest release on the format so far this year. Cracker Island (Parlophone) by Gorillaz was in second place, followed by the reissue of St Jude (Polydor) by Courteeners

Taylor Swift's Midnights (EMI), the biggest vinyl album of 2022, finished at No.5 overall in the first three months of 2023. Following catalogue campaigns by Warner Music, Pink Floyd had two albums in this year's Q1 vinyl Top 10.

The Q1 market growth for vinyl was confirmed ahead of the anticipated boost from Record Store Day this week. For the 2022 edition, overall vinyl sales were up 80% by volume week-on-week and 107% by value, so expectations will be high for this year’s edition based on a strong line-up of releases including The 1975, Taylor Swift, Loyle Carner, Elton John, Madonna, Nas, Pixies, and many more.

We want labels to think about CD for future editions of Record Store Day

Megan Page

According to ERA, vinyl sales revenue of £151 million in 2022 represented an 11% year-on-year increase. Because of increasing prices, the value growth was ahead of the unit growth in 2022, which came in at a more modest 2.9% year-on-year

Vinyl LPs represented 31.7% of all physical purchases in 2022. According to ERA, the average price of a vinyl LP was £26.01 - up 8% year-on-year. That has led to some concerns about younger fans being priced out of the vinyl offering, particularly when products are priced at £30-£40.

“I think customers realise that everything's going up,” said Megan Page. “It's not just vinyl, it's not something which is unique to our sector. That being said, obviously it is an issue, so we do need to find other ways of getting people through the door and feeling comfortable taking part in a Record Store Day. It's great that, alongside the vinyl, The 1975 have a CD and cassette, which does offer a different price point to some of those younger customers.”

While CD continues to outperform vinyl in unit terms, ERA revealed that it fell behind the older format in terms of value last year. In Q1 for 2023, CD unit sales were down 11% year-on-year to 2,438,937.

Page said that Record Store Day is fully behind the CD format and is encouraging labels to support it with exclusives.

“That is something  that we ask labels to really think about because there still is a massive audience for CDs,” she told Music Week. “I think it would be untimely to write them off - similarly, maybe, to the way vinyl was written off 15 years ago before Record Store Day started - when there is still an audience there who do enjoy CD. 

“There is potentially an opportunity to reinvent the CD slightly, with price rises to offer them as a nice package for that younger audience. So while we didn't have a huge amount on the list this year, it is something that we want labels to think about for future editions of Record Store Day.”

Cassettes, however, remain a niche format. Despite strong growth in 2022, total sales of cassettes only reached 195,000 units - and Q1 saw sales dive by 33.4% year-on-year.

PHOTO: Banquet Records 

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