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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

50% of vinyl buyers in the US don’t own a record player, data shows

April 25, 2023

According to data recently released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), annual vinyl sales exceeded CD sales in the US last year for the first time since 1987.

Consumers bought 41.3 million vinyl records in the States in 2022, compared to 33.4 million compact discs.

That wasn’t just due to the surging popularity of vinyl; it had to do with the declining popularity of CDs as well.

Revenues from vinyl jumped 17.2% YoY, to USD $1.2 billion in 2022, while revenues from CDs fell 17.6%, to $483 million.

Yet new research from music sales data company Luminate sheds new light on what actually happens to this vinyl after it’s been purchased.

In the company’s recent “Top Entertainment Trends for 2023” report, Luminate found that “50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months own a record player, compared to 15% among music listeners overall.”

Naturally, this also means that 50% of vinyl buyers… don’t own a record player.

So what, exactly, is going on here?

This isn’t the first time market researchers have noticed a distinct disconnect between vinyl purchases and turntable ownership.

In a 2016 survey, ICM found that 41% of vinyl buyers own a turntable but don’t use it, while another 7% said they don’t own a turntable at all.

So vinyl records are… decorations? A new version of a wall poster?

Yes, but it’s more than that. For many vinyl buyers, it’s as much about seeing and touching the music they like, as much as it is about listening.

In 2016, in response to the ICM poll, the BBC went to a UK record store and found a customer who bought vinyl but didn’t own a record player.

“I just collect them and put them on my wall, I think it looks great,” student Jordan Katende told the Beeb.

He added: “I literally do it based on how it looks, or if I feel like I have a connection with the artist… If I think it’ll look good on my wall, so be it.”

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