Vinyl record sales double in '08, CDs down

03.01.2009
Audiophiles have long argued that vinyl records offer better sound quality compared to CDs or MP3s, but their stoic loyalty in the face of change was seen as little more than nostalgia over the 25 years digital recordings has dominated the music industry. In recent years, however, sales of LPs -- that's short for long-playing records -- have more than doubled online and are regaining overall market share, thanks to new converts looking for more than they can find in an MP3 selling for 99 cents online.

In 2008, 1.88 million vinyl albums were purchased, more than in any other year in the history of , which began tracking LP sales in 1991. The previous record was in 2000, when 1.5 million LP albums were sold. More than two out of every three vinyl albums bought in 2008 were purchased at an independent music store, according to SoundScan.

Vinyl record sales rose 14% between 2006 and 2007, from 858,000 to 990,000. In contrast, CD sales plummeted over the past three years, from 553.4 million in 2006 to 360.6 million in 2008. MP3 sales grew from 32.6 million to 65.8 million during the same time period, according to SoundScan.

Industry observers say vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because new buyers are discovering the value of owning albums, with their cover art, large liner notes and warm sound.

"There's nothing like a vinyl record. It's analog. It sounds as close as you're going to get to the artist. If you're that guy who sits in that optimum space in your living room, you're definitely going to hear the difference," said Steven Sheldon, president of .

"Now, with that said, 99% of the public listens to music as a background off of and everything else, but that's by far the worst sound quality. But, it's also the most convenient -- and convenience sells," he said.