Q1 snapshot: Vinyl growth in double digits as major releases achieve significant physical sales

Q1 snapshot: Vinyl growth in double digits as major releases achieve significant physical sales

It’s been another significant week for physical music sales with a chart contest between Idles and Paloma Faith.

Based on the Midweek Sales flash, combined physical sales for Idles’ Tangk (Partisan) and Paloma Faith’s The Glorification Of Sadness (RCA) were around 25,000. Crawlers are chasing a Top 10 finish with 4,515 sales by the end of Sunday (February 18).

While Noah Kahan’s Stick Season album reached No.1 on Friday (February 16) with streaming making up the majority of consumption (59.5%), chart-topping albums so far this year by The Last Dinner Party, James Arthur, Green Day, D-Block Europe, Shed Seven and Lewis Capaldi have all been powered by physical sales.

While streaming now accounts for the vast majority of the market, physical continues to dominate the top of the albums chart. Out of the 44 albums that debuted at No.1 in 2023, 86% of them had more than half their chart-eligible sales made up of physical sales. 

Based on Music Week analysis of exclusive Official Charts Company data, vinyl sales growth is continuing into 2024 as we reach the midway point of Q1. Vinyl sales are up 14.5% year-on-year up to chart week seven.

ERA CEO Kim Bayley spoke about the outlook for vinyl as part of an interview for our 2023 analysis.

“Year-in, year-out we ask ourselves whether vinyl can continue to sustain its momentum and still it continues to surprise,” said Bayley. “That’s no reason to be complacent, but vinyl has undoubtedly established its place as the collector’s and enthusiast’s complement to the stream.”

The Last Dinner Party’s debut album, Prelude To Ecstasy (Island), is the biggest seller on vinyl so far this year with 15,944 sales, according to the Official Charts Company. 

Green Day’s No.1 Saviors (Reprise) is the second biggest seller (11,381) on the format, followed by The Smile’s Wall Of Eyes (XL) in third place with 8,056 vinyl units. The Smile peaked at No.3 in the weekly chart.

Catalogue titles on vinyl continue to sell strongly: Rumours (Rhino) by Fleetwood Mac is No.7 so far this year (5,512), while Dark Side Of The Moon (Rhino) by Pink Floyd is at No.9 (4,603).

The physical sector is feeling more upbeat than in recent years, particularly with the issues around vinyl production proving less problematic. Utopia Distribution Services reported record shipments in November 2023, following its move to a new warehouse facility.

Drew Hill, deputy CEO at Utopia Music, overseeing Proper Music Group and UDS, said: “Over the past year, I’ve witnessed first-hand how the business can come together to support a common goal, with labels and retailers working to build a fit-for-purpose infrastructure that can effectively service the UK’s physical music market for years to come. As vinyl continues its meteoric rise, these early year sales figures are the culmination of our efforts as all parties begin to reap the rewards of a dynamic and efficient supply chain.”

Year-in, year-out we ask ourselves whether vinyl can continue to sustain its momentum and still it continues to surprise

Kim Bayley

ERA has confirmed details of Record Store Day 2024 on Saturday, April 20. Artists issuing limited vinyl releases include Jessie Ware, Noah Kahan, Gabriels, Katy J Pearson, Blur and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. 

HMV has reported strong vinyl and CD sales growth, as well as returning to its Oxford Street flagship store. 

“We see vinyl continuing to grow for us in the foreseeable future,” HMV owner Doug Putman recently told Music Week

CD sales have shown signs of a turnaround with ERA reporting a sales revenue increase for the format in 2023. So far in 2024, Music Week’s analysis shows that CD sales are basically flat – down 0.76% year–on-year.

Physical sales are up 5% overall so far this year. For artist releases only (not including compilations), physical sales are up 6.4% year-on-year up to week seven. 

The BPI reported that physical sales were down just 1.1% year-on-year to 17.1m units in 2023. Physical music narrowly missed out on its first year-on-year increase since 2004 – the peak year for CD sales in the UK. CD’s volume reduction of 6.9% last year was the lowest rate of decline since 2015.

Vinyl LP sales increased for the 16th consecutive year in 2023, growing at their fastest rate this decade with an 11.8% rise to 6.1 million units. 

“2023 on the whole was a strong year for releases,” said Bayley. “The message from retail, as ever, is ‘Give us the right product and we know how to sell it.’”

Click here for our 2023 market analysis.

PHOTO: Banquet


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