M is for Musical Format

When I was a teenager buying music, the LP, the long-playing album played at 33 revolutions per minute, was the dominant recording format in the United States and elsewhere. Then the CD, the shiny disc, was introduced in the 1980s, and by the end of that decade, the compact disc had supplanted the LP as the dominant musical form. CD sales peaked in 2000 with 942.5 million units sold in the US, but has begun a steady decline in the 21st century, losing out to digital sales.

It has been predicted that digital music sales will surpass CDs in 2012, although even digital sales in the US were flat in 2010, possibly because of economic unease.

But here’s the odd phenomenon: since 2007, vinyl sales have been on the rise. It’s nowhere near the LP’s heyday, but in an era where physical manifestations of music are on the wane, it’s a peculiar trend.

Top Selling Vinyl Albums Of 2008
1 – Radiohead – In Rainbows – 25,800
2 – The Beatles – Abbey Road – 16,500
3 – Guns N Roses – Chinese Democracy – 13,600
4 – B-52s – Funplex – 12,800
5 – Portishead – Third – 12,300
6 – Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane over the Sea – 10,200
7 – Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – 10,200
8 – Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – 9,600
9 – Metallica – Death Magnetic – 9,400
10 – Radiohead – OK Computer – 9,300

Top Selling Vinyl Albums Of 2009
1 – The Beatles – Abbey Road – 34,800
2 – Michael Jackson – Thriller – 29,800
3 – Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion – 14,000
4 – Wilco – Wilco – 13,200
5 – Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – 12,700
6 – Pearl Jam – Backspacer – 12,500
7 – Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest – 11,600
8 – Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction – 11,500
9 – Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey… – 11,500
10 -Radiohead – In Rainbows – 11,400

Top Selling Vinyl Albums Of 2010
1 – The Beatles, Abbey Road -35,000
2 – Arcade Fire, The Suburbs -18,800
3 – The Black Keys, Brothers -18,400
4 – Vampire Weekend, Contra -15,000
5 – Michael Jackson, Thriller -14,200
6 – The National, High Violet -13,600
7 – Beach House, Teen Dream -13,000
8 – Jimi Hendrix Experience, Valleys of Neptune -11,400
9 – Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon -10,600
10 – The xx, The xx -10,200

Again, LP sales are only a fraction of CD or download sales. Still it’s a growing trend when many believe the music industry is experiencing a slow painful death.


ABC Wednesday – Round 8

0 thoughts on “M is for Musical Format”

  1. I know I can be a bit of a cynic, but if sales of music are declining, could it be because what’s being put out is rubbish? The music (and film) industry are quick to blame illegal downloads, but it seems to me that it’s at least as plausible, actually, more so, that people don’t like what’s available.

    You note that the bad economy has played a role, and I’m absolutely sure it has. But if the industry was putting out must-have music, would that really matter?

    I also think that vinyl has a niche role to play, but the future is pretty clearly digital.

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  2. I have 3 in total out of these top charts Roger. Wouldn’t mind a Guns n Roses album but we haven’t got a turntable – hubby hates CD’s as they are unreliable. Thinking of getting a jukebox – we have a friend who deals in them! Handy guy to know eh? He fits carpets too – infact……yes – find out more later this week! lol!

    Thanks so much – your contribution to the running of ABC Wednesday is treasured!

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  3. My son is 31 years old and is crazy about the latest vinyl records. I don’t see it. I did my switching from vinyl to cassette tape to CD to Ipod. There’s noway I’m turning back. Vinyl does not have sound quality or endurance to last. I’m not going back to VHS either.

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  4. It is odd that vinyl has been making a comeback. There are many people who like the sound of vinyl recordings. I prefer the clarity of digital recording, particularly remastered classics.

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  5. I LOVE Abbey Road, and I love my vinyls! When my son was 16 he spotted my collection and I think for the first time, I REALLY impressed him! Leave it to the vinyls!

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  6. I don’t listen to much in the new music, I’m still livin’ in the 50s. If I listen to music I listen to SIRIUS radio, I can choose my own genre of music that way. When I do listen which is very seldom it is usually the ELVIS station, all ELVIS music, and fun to work while it plays in the background.

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  7. What an interesting post for the M Day, Roger, as always! I had no idea there has been such an upsurge in vinyl sales! How interesting! Not for me, but I can see why some people would prefer them! Hope your week is going well!

    Sylvia
    ABC Team

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  8. I still haven’t gotten used to more albums being available in CD than in vinyl and now CDs have made way for digital downloads. Makes me feel old.

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  9. I do miss the album covers – works of art that can not be done on a CD and will never be needed for downloads. I still have a turntable, though i never actually play any of the records I have left.

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  10. Well, Roger, I sure know I’m older than you are. Not only did my husband and I look up Metz, France, in an actual book, but he first vinyl record I bought was a 45rpm record of “Oh Boy” by Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Yes, and the Crickets. I’m that old. My father made me play one Glenn Miller record for every rock’n’roll one I played. LOL
    Great to see Abbey Road hangin’ in there at the top of the LP sales, eh? The fab four were fab, no doubt about it.
    Well, it’s late here in France, so I’ll catch you next time, when we’re home again.
    — Kay, Alberta, Canada
    Missing in Action for a Few Weeks

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  11. I never got rid of my LP collection. Not that it was extensive. Nothing beats the quality of music you hear in an LP recording. And was not Abbey Road one of the best ever albums? It seems that way and interesting that it has appeal even to the younger generation.

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  12. A nice mix of genres in the modern vinyl charts. I like my digital music collection but vinyl does have a warmer, more rounded sound. No need to by The Beatles in vinyl, I’ve got the originals,LOL.

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  13. Hi Roger,
    I have difficulties to reach your page. This time I was able but it looks a bit strange. I don’t know why?
    I tried both Explorer and Google chrome.
    I also wonder what will happen in the music world with spotify and youtube and …
    Have a nice day and thanks for visiting!

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  14. Lorne has a collection of vinyl that I think is worth a heckuva lot of change. Because the collection is in mint condition, with the right machine and venue, the sound is absolutely awesome! I’ve actually had to go outside to check that the noise is contained in the house ‘cuz sometimes he plays the music so loud. However, the collection does take up a lot of room whereas his 400 of so CDs are neatly stacked in 4 baskets under a sofa table. Interesting how vinyl is coming back in style!

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  15. Interesting about music formats Roger, – I go back beyond the LP (of which we still have many) to the original singles you played on a wind-up gramophone, and then do you remember those timy recordings that you had to have a middle insert to fit on players? I have forgotten what they were called, but I think they were a form of long playing records. Interesting topic for M, – thank you. Brings back memories.

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  16. About 10 years ago, the husband and I got rid of our turntable and our albums. Downsizing ourselves, we were. Now, I find myself thinking about buying a turntable and finding some of our favorite records at Goodwill. Fortunately it takes me forever to do anything so this will probably not ever happen.

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  17. One of my favourite gifts from my daughter is a turntable so that I could finally play all my vinyl again!

    But for real nostalgia, I have an old gramophone that plays 78s. Can’t see those making a come back!

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  18. Im out of words what to say about those numbers and musical format because music dont like me even if i like to learn how to play musin in the piano

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  19. Probably, eventually the LP will completely disappear, just like printed books. Not today and maybe not even in our lifetime, but I think it’s a foregone conclusion given the resources needed to create records and books. It will be a sad day when that happens. It’s just not the same curling up with a Kindle. 😦

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  20. I have kept my favourite LPs from the late 60s to the early 80s for the covers, although it’s been ages since I had anything to play them on. My LP collection is not so big that I ever considered it worth while to buy a new turntable after the CD revolution. Some of them I bought again as CD, or I had them copied. I think many people did that – bought their old favourites again in the new format. Nowadays I don’t buy a lot of new music – when I do, it’s usually by artists I know from before.

    I think CD’s/music is now also in competition with collecting films and TV-series on DVD. There was more time to just listen to music and read back in my youth – no computer, and just one or two TV channels!

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  21. I still remember those long playing that my grandfather used to play in their old house. Thanks for reliving my memory on this particular topic.

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  22. Very interesting facts. There’s just something about The Beatles with all generations, no matter which format we prefer to listen to them.

    I think we’re turning towards digital more because of convenience and space. It’s the minimalist and green era. More people want to save the planet and go green.

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  23. The husband used to have a collection of the vinyl album but eventually he sold them to a collector when we ran out of room to store them.

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  24. Very interesting entry! Thanks for sharing, Roger;o)
    I never download. I Love to have the discs of my favourite artists on the shelf;o)

    ***
    Happy day****

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  25. Roger,

    Thanks so much for this post! So glad LPs are on the rise. Even though I despise vinyl because of the petrochemicals involved in its production, it’s heartening to know they are meltable and recyclable!

    Hey, I still have 33s. Hell, I have 78s, which actually gave birth to the name “album.” If you bought a collection of 78s (say, the soundtrack from a movie), you could flip through the inserted wax records like pages in a book!

    Also, the beauty of 33s was the album art, the inclusion (thanks to the Beatles) of lyrics you could actually read without using a microscope, and the critics’ essays on jazz albums. Aaahhhh. Lovely post! Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/mmmmmmmms-abc-day-16/

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