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UK vinyl LP sales increase for a 16th consecutive year

Written by on December 28, 2023

Vinyl LP purchases have risen for the 16th consecutive year in the UK in 2023 and are growing at their fastest rate this decade.

Following a 2.9% improvement in unit sales last year, the vinyl market in 2023 has, with just a few more days to go to year-end, increased more than four times as fast with an 11.7% rise to 5.9 million units. This is according to analysis of Official Charts data by the BPI, the association for the UK’s record companies and labels and the representative voice of British recorded music. The increase has been led by brand new releases from artists including Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, Lewis Capaldi, The Rolling Stones, and Taylor Swift.

The ever-rising demand for vinyl albums and other music releases on physical format reflects a thriving market for music on the high street thanks to the popularity of countless independent record stores across the UK, as well as the success of specialist music and entertainment chain HMV, which in November re-opened its original flagship store on London’s Oxford Street after a four-year absence.

While more than four-fifths of recorded music consumption in the UK is now made up of streaming, demand for vinyl LPs continues to surge, with the market at its highest annual level since 1990. This includes over a quarter of a million vinyl albums having been sold during the course of last week, making it the highest sales week for the format this century. Additionally, the CD market has sustained its smallest annual decline in nearly a decade this year as it moves closer to plateauing. Nearly 11 million CDs, which remain important commercially and to Official Charts success, were sold across the year, while sales of cassettes topped 100,000 units in a calendar year for the fourth consecutive year.

Final figures for vinyl LP, CD & cassette sales in 2023 will be unveiled by the BPI on 3rd January as part of its Official 2023 UK Recorded Music Market Update, which will also report the total volume of audio streams for the year and the final year-end Official Charts.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, BPI Chief Executive, said: “Led by vinyl, the resurgence of physical product underlines the resilience of the UK music market at a time when streaming consumption continues to hit record levels. Whilst LP sales have now been on an upward path for the past 16 years, it is encouraging to see a stabilisation in demand for CD, as well as new generations of music fans falling in love with the cassette. It is giving people more choice than ever in how they enjoy their favourite music.”

New releases top best sellers list
Seven of the 10 biggest vinyl LP sellers in the year to date is a 2023 new release, led by 1989 (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift and also including her album Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and albums by Blur (The Ballad Of Darren), Lana Del Rey (Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd), Lewis Capaldi (Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent), Kylie Minogue (Tension) and The Rolling Stones (Hackney Diamonds).

British artists fuel vinyl growth
Additionally, more than 40% of the 100 most-purchased vinyl LPs of 2023 were released in the past two years and include albums by UK artists such as The 1975 (Being Funny In A Foreign Language), Depeche Mode (Memento Mori), Ed Sheeran (- and Autumn Variations), Gorillaz (Cracker Island), The Lathums (From Nothing To A Little Bit More), Liam Gallagher (Knebworth 22), Maisie Peters (The Good Witch), Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Council Skies), Royal Blood (Back To The Water Below) and Sleep Token (Take Me Back To Eden). These were alongside big-selling vinyl releases by international artists, including Blink-182 (One More Time), Boygenius (The Record), Olivia Rodrigo (Guts), Paramore (This Is Why) and Queens Of The Stone Age (In Times New Roman), as well as the soundtracks to the Barbie and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 movies.

Classic albums and re-issues also play their part
Titles defined as ‘catalogue’ continue to play an important role in growing the vinyl market, with 2023’s biggest sellers including Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, which remarkably is set to be among the year’s 10 biggest-selling vinyl LPs for an eighth consecutive time, re-issues from The Courteneers (St Jude), De La Soul (3 Feet High And Rising), Oasis (The Masterplan), Pink Floyd (The Dark Side Of The Moon (Live At Wembley 1974)) and Wham! (The Singles – Echoes From The Edge Of Heaven), as well as evergreen classics such as the original studio version of The Dark Side Of The Moon and Arctic Monkeys’ AM.

CD and cassette also benefit from new album releases
Brand new albums also lead the CD and cassette markets, with the 10 biggest titles in each market at this stage of the year, released in 2023. Take That’s This Life is the year’s top CD, having sold more than 100,000 copies on the format during its first week of release in November, while the other most popular titles include albums by Ed Sheeran (-), Lewis Capaldi (Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent), P!nk (Trustfall), The Rolling Stones (Hackney Diamonds) and Taylor Swift (1989 (Taylor’s Version)). Highlighting the appeal of cassettes to new music fans born decades after their original run, global teen popstar Olivia Rodrigo claims the format’s top seller this year with her second album, Guts, while other popular cassette titles include 2023 releases from Blur (The Ballad Of Darren), Inhaler (Cuts & Bruises) and Kylie Minogue (Tension).

ecord label and distributor investment, music retail support and album events boost the physical market
Increasingly, activity such as Record Store Day, which in April reported that its annual event had boosted vinyl sales by 122%, and National Album Day – the annual celebration of the art of the album, organised jointly by the BPI and ERA – which grew vinyl LP sales on the day of the event by more than 50%, plays its part in strengthening demand for physical albums. Further support for the physical format in 2023 came from increased distribution capacity, with Utopia Distribution Services and DP World opening a new warehouse for physical music in Bicester last August with a daily handling capacity of more than 100,000 units.

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