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Vinyl to the Rescue: Physical Albums Outsell Digital Sales in 2017

Matt Cardy, Getty Images
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has just released some fascinating statistics on music sales from 2017. For the first time since 2011, physical albums outsold digital downloads, with CDs and vinyl moving $200 million more in sales than downloads.

Despite the convenience of instant music delivery from outlets like iTunes, fans clearly still want the physical copy of their favorite albums. In 2017, digital downloads brought $1.3 billion in revenue to the music industry, while physical sales bested that number with total sales of $1.5 billion.

The hero for physical sales? Vinyl! Sales of vinyl records went up 10 percent from 2016. CDs however, decreased overall from the previous year, dropping by six percent. As for digital downloads, they fell pretty drastically, with track sales going down 25 percent and full album sales dropping 24 percent versus 2016.

The explosion of streaming is partially to blame for the decrease in digital downloads, but streaming has given the music industry its highest overall revenue in years, with $7 billion total in 2017 compared to just $4.4 billion in 2014. Last year, streaming actually accounted for 65 percent of revenue brought in by the recording industry.

To check out the RIAA’s full report on 2017, click here.

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