From the 1930s to the resurgence of the 21st century


Vinyl records have grown popular and out of favor since they were introduced to American audiences nearly 80 years ago. As reported by American History NowRCA Victrola produced the first commercially available records in 1930, but long play (or LP) records which spin at 33 1/2 revolutions per minute and which are still standard today only appeared on the stage until 1948. Columbia Records presented the LP, which could hold half an hour of music on each side, at a press conference in New York.

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Speak Now, see, listen! Blog from the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, the first LP was a recording of Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E performed by the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra. In March 1956, according to uDiscoverMusic, Billboard The magazine began publishing weekly charts listing top-selling records. The album of singer “King of Calypso” Harry Belafonte Belafonte was the first to reach number one; it remained at the top for six weeks before being supplanted by by Elvis Presley self-titled debut album. Elvis Presley ruled the chart for a good ten weeks.

English writer Shelagh Delaney holding a copy of Elvis' album 'King Creole' in Stratford, East London, UK, 1958. 'The British Sagan from Salford' - March 1959.

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The Top Country Albums chart was created in Billboard January 11, 1964; Ring of Fire (The Best of Johnny Cash) was the first number one on the country chart. Vinyl record sales boomed throughout the 1960s and 1970s; speak Recording Industry Association of AmericaLP and Extended Play, or EP, sales peaked in 1978 at 341.3 million units sold, or 47% of the total sales volume of all music formats.

The girls relax listening to a record player.  1950s

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Gospel singer Roebuck 'Pops Staples of the Staple Singers' attends a Stax Records sales summit titled 'Gettin' It All Together' at the Rivermont Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27, 1969. Stax is celebrating the release of 27 LP and 30 singles, including

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Exterior view of Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in 1974 in Los Angeles, California.

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The popularity of vinyl records took a massive plunge in the early 1980s thanks to Sony’s introduction of the Walkman cassette player in 1979. According to, the portability of the Walkman and cassettes allows music lovers to take their music with them and listen to it anywhere rather than being relegated to playing records at home. In five years, cassettes have sold more than records. The introduction of compact discs in the late 1980s, followed by the widespread adoption of MP3s and other digital formats in the 1990s, and cemented by the introduction of Apple’s iPod in 2001, made the future of vinyl records uncertain.

Things changed in 2007 when, according to RIAA, vinyl sales soared to 1.3 million units. This represented just 0.1% of total music industry sales volume, but was an impressive 44.4% increase over 2006. In 2008, the number went even higher to 2.9 million, a huge increase of 123.1 from the previous year. With numbers like that, trade publications couldn’t help but notice. computer world (“The Voice of Business Technology”) published an article in January 2009 for which they spoke with Steven Sheldon, president of Los Angeles-based Rainbo Records. Sheldon noted that it wasn’t nostalgic baby boomers and Gen Xers who were driving the vinyl trend, but rather 13- to 24-year-olds looking for a new way to feel. connect to the music: “They were brought up on virtual everything… I think they also recognize the difference in sound, but I think holding that 12 by 12 piece of art and holding that record in their hand creates the buzz. ” Young consumers continue to drive the ever-growing demand for vinyl; as reported by Mixmagin a 2021 survey by MRC Data of 4,041 people aged 13 and older, 15% of Gen Z respondents said they had purchased a vinyl record in the past 12 months, compared to 11% of respondents from Generation Y. Either way, people of all ages are obviously getting in on the vinyl trend. According to CRM data year-end report, vinyl accounted for 50.4% of all physical album sales in 2021, up from 1.7% in 2011.

Customers line up to enter the Shuga Records store during Record Store Day in Chicago on April 13, 2019. - Record Store Day was founded in 2007 and is now celebrated in stores around the world, featuring hundreds of records and other artists participating in the day by making special appearances, performances, meet and greets with their fans, holding fundraisers for community nonprofits, and releasing special vinyl releases.  (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)


Customers buy special edition vinyl records at the Dusty Groove music store during Record Store Day in Chicago on April 13, 2019. - Record Store Day was founded in 2007 and is now celebrated in stores around the world, with hundreds artists and others participate in the day by making special appearances, performances, meet and greets with their fans, holding fundraisers for community non-profits, and posting special releases in vinyl.


Another driver of the vinyl resurgence is the annual Record Store Day Event. Launched in 2008, participants include 1,400 independent record stores in the United States and thousands more around the world. According to the official website, “It’s a day for the people who make up the world of the record store – staff, customers and artists – to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role played by these independent stores in their communities.” Unique limited edition vinyl and CDs are available exclusively on Record Store Day from a wide range of artists and stores that traditionally host live performances and meet and host events between artists and fans.The fact that Record Store Day limits official attendance to independent record stores underscores the importance of these small, individual stores in sustaining the vinyl revival. Behind the desk recently interviewed Travis Searle of Louisville, Kentucky’s Guestroom Records, who exclaimed “It’s amazing that we’re putting in record numbers year after year…it’s very exciting that more and more people are turning to vinyl records now than literally anytime in the last 30 years.”

READ MORE: Honda Records Aims Beyond Country Music’s Vinyl Boundary

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