The crazy vinyl revival
Vinyl LP/EP shipments peaked in 1978 at 341.3 million. That was a year when 8-track was dead and cassette tapes hadn’t yet made significant inroads into new music sales. In 1978, if you wanted to listen to music (besides radio), then you had to buy vinyl. There was no other choice. Vinyl sales dropped from 1978 to the mid 1980s not because people were buying CDs, but because they were buying pre-recorded cassettes.
Vinyl sales for the first half of 2016 were 6.2 million, an 11.4% increase year-over-year, so the vinyl revival continues to grow, but it’s still only 3.6% of what it was in 1978.
But hold on a minute. That only includes new sales. If you look at used plus new sales, the vinyl market is actually 2.5 times bigger. That article also has some interesting stats on who’s buying vinyl. It turns out that the majority of vinyl purchases are by people under the age of 35, buyers who are too young to remember stores full of new vinyl records. The vinyl revival is actually a hipster/youth-culture thing and not a bunch of old fogies who are too grumpy to go digital.
55+ people are a much larger percentage of vinyl listeners than vinyl buyers, because they are still listening to their vinyl collections they purchased new in the 1980s, 1970s, and even the 1960s.
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Me personally: My vinyl buying days started in 1983 and ended in 1986, as far as I can tell. I didn’t have much time to accumulate many records, especially with my limited money back then, so there are only about sixteen albums, and it turns out that I had crappy taste in music. There are four Night Ranger albums, and Def Leppard’s Pyromania album. There’s Journey Frontiers, a horribly un-listenable album. But I was surprised to find out that I enjoyed re-listening to Van Halen 1984 on original vinyl I purchased in the year 1984. And there are three Genesis albums and a Phil Collins (Sussidio) album which are pretty decent.