Vinyl record sales hit $1 billion in 2021, a 40-year high

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STURGEON BAY Wis. – There was a time when Paul Exworthy wrote off his record collection.

He was not alone.


What do you want to know

  • Record sales increase for 15 years
  • LP sales hit $1 billion in 2021, the first time since 1986
  • The Recording Industry Association of America said global music sales in 2021 were $15 billion.

“In 1995 all my records were probably in a basement and I was moving them from house to house with my turntables and my old stereo equipment and listening to CDs,” he said. “And I still love CDs.”

Exworthy is managing director of Bay Vinyl Records in Sturgeon Bay, where he’s immersed in discussions about music and LPs all day.

This is where he wants to be.

“Ten years ago, my daughter-in-law brought me to a second-hand record store in Green Bay on record store day and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said.

Both the store and the industry have seen an influx of new business in recent years.

Older music lovers are returning to records as a new generation of buyers joins the recording world. Logan Smith is part of this new generation.

He has just acquired his first record player and discovers a musical world which, at one time, had gone beyond the path of the eight-track tape.

“I grew up with it. My parents had record players and stuff like that,” Smith said. “I’ve always heard people say that with digital music you lose a lot of sound and tone and warmth, and I didn’t realize that until I got my own turntable. disk.”

The Recording Industry Association of America’s annual report for 2021 says record sales revenue hit $1 billion for the first time since 1986.

Smith is not surprised.

“Bands and record labels are definitely starting to see people change like that,” he said. “You know how people say the past always comes back.”

Exworthy constantly sees new customers in the store looking for used and new vinyl records.

“I don’t see it slowing down, especially since they’re making new ones like this,” he said when cleaning up a newer release. “And they’re getting more sophisticated. They make them thicker. Obtain all colors (of vinyl).

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