Vinyl sales to hit 30-year high as music fans turn back to turntables for comfort

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The music industry has suffered immensely over the last year, with the Covid-19 pandemic making it impossible for live gigs to go ahead as normal – but one area of the industry appears to have made a miraculous comeback. 

Vinyl sales are on track to reach a three-decade high in the UK, as music fans unable to see their favorite artists perform in person reach for their turntables and spend their spare cash on building up their record collections. 

According to The Guardian, record sales are up almost 10% this year and are "well on track to break the £100m mark by the end of 2020". 

Sales by volume are also reportedly set to beat 2019's 4.3 million, making 2020 the best year for vinyl sales since 1990, "when Sinead O'Connor and New Kids on the Block topped the charts".

Nostalgia trip

While vinyl has been growing steadily in popularity over the last 15 years or so, the bounce-back stills comes as a surprise. 

As The Guardian points out, physical music sales (including vinyl, CDs, cassettes, and DVDs) were slashed in half in April when the first UK lockdown shut down high street stores.

Cassettes are also enjoying a revival, with sales up by 85% in 2020 – CD sales are continuing to decline however, and are on course for their worst year since 1987.

The renewed interest in retro physical formats like vinyl and cassette makes sense in 2020; living through such a difficult year is bound to make people long for simpler times and the comforting warm sound of analogue music.

Owning a vinyl collection also brings a sense of tangibility thats largely been lost since the music industry went digital in the early 2000s. Sure, you can buy albums and singles online, but you can’t display them with pride or leaf through well-worn sleeve notes to interrogate the lyrics of your favorite song one more time. 

Plus, turntables are getting more user-friendly all the time. The record players of today are very different beasts from the complicated machines you might find in your parent's attic, with modern conveniences like Bluetooth connectivity and USB ports that let you convert your vinyls to MP3. 

Whether the boom in record sales will outlive the pandemic remains to be seen, but it's part of a wider vinyl revival that's showing no signs of slowing down, despite the stress that physical record stores find themselves under in 2020.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.