Record LP Sales

There’s been something of a buzz on Nielsen’s data for US music sales in 2008. Not surprisingly it shows CDs hit by purely digital music, but also a sharp increase in LP sales. Lucas Mearian’s article Back to the future: Vinyl record sales double in ’08, CDs down is worth reading even though it suffers a little from the usual misplaced credulity toward the medium seen often in the more ignorant digerati. This was heard in depth on the BBC World Service Business Daily where a short trip from Shepherd’s Bush to The Walrus would have disabused them of their failure to research. More on that when the podcast comes out.


On to the Nielsen data, the overall stats are:

TOTAL LP ALBUM SALES (12/31/07 – 12/28/08)










% Chg.


    1.88*   .99   89%

But what’s the juice on what people are actually buying?






(based on vinyl album sales from 12/31/2007-12/28/2008)




Units Sold




Units Sold


In Rainbows/ Radiohead

  25,800     1   Radiohead   61,200

Abbey Road/ Beatles

  16,500     2   Metallica   39,500

Chinese Democracy/ Guns ‘N Roses

  13,600     3   Beatles   20,400

Funplex/ B-52’s

  12,800     4   Elliott Smith   17,800

Third/ Portishead

  12,300     5   Bob Dylan   15,200

In the Aeroplane…/ Neutral Milk Hotel

  10,200     6   Portishead   15,100

Dark Side of the Moon/ Pink Floyd

  10,200     7   Ryan Adams   14,000

Fleet Foxes/ Fleet Foxes

  9,600     8   Coldplay   13,900

Death Magnetic/ Metallica

  9,400     9   Guns ‘N Roses   13,600

O.K. Computer/ Radiohead

  9,300     10.   Neutral Milk Hotel   13,200

Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon??? What cotton-picking cloth-ears is going out and buying these?

Well so far, only data in for America, not been able to see what the stats are for UK and Europe or global and would love to see what Japanese ears have been listening to. Equally useful would be data on 2nd hand sales, this must be massive with vinyl, especially with sites such as eBay and Discogs.

If anyone has any data, please do let me know.


The CD is dead, long live the…

Those creators of the future Gartner have posted a valediction for bidding mourning for the CD. The precogs say that this should be the last christmas for the format: 2008 Should Be the Last Christmas for Retail CDs. Having spent a most pleasant time with the people at Dada Records in Chiswick just before said Xmas I do hope not. Whilst Dada specialise in CDs, there is still a certain pleasure from actually going shopping for music and one amplified by the vinyl shopping trip. But say Gartner, the profits of physical media spell the end of industry practices:

As a percentage of total revenue in the U.S. market, physical media (CDs, LPs, DVD-A and so on) have gone from 91 percent of revenue in 2005 to 77 percent in 2007 and there is also evidence that physical retailers are even reducing the physical floor space dedicated to CDs.

Instead Gartner say, the makers of CDs should abandon the traditional launch, release digitally first and then burn content to order. But what then of the LP? I wish too, but does Gartner’s bell toll the final end of vinyl and the arrival of digital lossless formats such as FLAC? Nano technology aside, LPs are of course still beng released and are getting heavier – 200g plus Japanese imports. Manwhile lossy MP3s still dominate in the overall market.

So what’s going on? Maybe the best barometer is a site such as Linn Records. Linn are offering music in 3 formats – CD, Vinyl and Download. As a hifi manufacturer Linn produce the whole top-end gamut from record players to digital streamers. My Well Tempered turntable already hosts a Linn Archive cartridge (now the Arkiva) and if I ever had to replace the Tempered deck then the Sondek LP12 would be top of my list. Top of my wish of wish lists would be the Klimax DS.But, a big but, at $20,000 a pop, it’s not likely to be in next year’s Xmas goody bag. For this year, I’ve still got some £5 blues CDs to listen to, courtesy of Dada.

Are Gartner right? This is my precog moment…All said, vinyl aint about to disappear, it’s far too high fidelity. Digital will prevail. But the CD? The death knell for the compact disk is when network distribution takes its next leap into uber-broadband and the home becomes a network. People will want HD quality video as downloads and easy streaming across their living spaces. Given the currently immense bandwidth that this takes it will still need a choice jump in bandwidth to become fully effective and accepted. This will/is happening. For musical formats this is fab as it heralds FLAC etc as transportable. All we need then is storage tech to continue its unstoppable trajectory and the 1st fully lossless iPod will be out. A few thousand albums stored in FLAC on a portable player will be fun. That then will see the final end of the MP3. What will be of note at that point, will be the reaction of all those who realise that their entire music collection is in a legacy format. Possibly, maybe, they won’t believe their ears.

Dada Records phone number: 020 8747 9790