While CD sales have taken a sustained hit since the introduction of digital music downloads and continues along its downward path, in a surprising turn of events, vinyl records have come back into fashion. Itâ€™s not just oldsters who are seeking to fill out past collections either. A new generation of hipsters and music aficionados are discovering the artistic value of album art, the fun of liner notes (and secret messages), and other perks of the vinyl album.
In a news story coming out of ComputerWorld, Nielsen Entertainment is reporting that vinyl sales over the past four years have risen dramatically, with 2.5 million albums sold in 2009, up from 1.8 million the year before that. "As surprising as it may sound, LP sales are up again this year, and 2009 had the highest number of LP sales ever since we started tracking them," said David Bakula, senior VP at Nielsen Entertainment.
For CDs, itâ€™s a very different story. After peaking in 2001, itâ€™s been a slide downward that hasnâ€™t stopped, and the first quarter of 2010 saw CD sales slip by 18 percent. Even the visionaries see the CD decline and are preparing for the new world without CDs. Apple will no longer show the CD cover on its iTunes, but instead has come up with a new musical icon (a musical note inside a circle) as announced by Steve Jobs in a recent meeting.
Why the switch to vinyl when digital music is taking over as the new way of purchasing music? In addition to better sound (claimed by oldsters), the album art, and liner notes, new vinyl albums are frequently accompanied by free digital download cards, so that buyers arenâ€™t limited to listening only in that medium. Vinyl and its audience are evolving, but the same just canâ€™t be said for the CD market.