The Girls at the Rock Show have always had an affinity for that coveted black disc, we’ve even made a feature to specifically showcase our love for vinyl which you can check out here. To us, there was no surprise that in 2015, LP and EP sales rose to their highest level since 1988. Yep, you read that right.. The sale of vinyl albums in the U.S. brought in more money than the recording industry made from advertising on the free tier of services like YouTube and Spotify according to the RIAA.
Vinyl LP/EP sales rose 32% in 2015, which is the highest level since 1988, that’s $416 million. It’s still a fraction of what overall industry revenues, which edged higher by 0.9% over 2014 to an estimated $7 billion but it’s more than the revenue generated from on-demand, ad-supported streaming, which grew 31% to $385 million. The vinyl figure is based on retail value, or the value of records shipped at list price. It doesn’t show how much the labels (or artists for that matter) actually received from the sales but for formats with no retail price (such as a free stream) the RIAA uses wholesale value. Of course vinyl sales only make up a fraction of the music industry and the RIAA doesn’t account for how much of that money actually went to labels as well as artists. While 31% increase for streaming music also doesn’t include online radio streaming services like Pandora or paid streaming subscriptions like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others it’s still a pretty impressive accomplishment.
In a statement, RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said the following:
“This is why we, and so many of our music community brethren, feel that some technology giants have been enriching themselves at the expense of the people who actually create the music. We call this the “value grab” — because some companies take advantage of outdated, market-distorting government rules and regulations to either pay below fair-market rates, or avoid paying for that music altogether… Need further proof that some fundamental market distortions are at play? Last year, 17 million vinyl albums, a legacy format enjoying a bit of a resurgence, generated more revenues than billions and billions of on-demand free streams: $416 million compared to $385 million for on-demand free streams.
I’m confident that music’s future is bright. The popularity of music is greater than ever. Like never before, it drives our culture and commerce. It is the throbbing heartbeat of social media and it is a must-have ingredient of any major technology platform. But reforms are necessary to level the playing field and ensure that the entire music community derives the full and fair value of our work.”