As Record Store Day Approaches, Millions of Americans Purchase Music the Old-Fashioned Way

Even as streaming music gains users, one third of consumers are still purchasing CDs, while more than 16 million buy vinyl LPs

According to MusicWatch, a company providing consumer research for the music industry, despite the precipitous decline in sales for CDs over the past several years, nearly one in three Americans age 13 and older bought at least one music CD in the past year. Even with falling CD sales, the physical music format accounted for $1.9 billion, or 32 percent of U.S. music revenues in 2014, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Amazon continued to lead the pack of CD retailers, with 26 percent share of revenues last year. Amazon was closely followed by Walmart, at 23 percent, and Best Buy, at 15 percent. Local independent music stores, the driving force behind Record Store Day on April 18, 2015, accounted for 5 percent of U.S. CD sales in 2014.

Share of CD Sales Revenue

2012 2013 2014
Amazon 20% 23% 26%
Walmart 18% 20% 23%
Best Buy 16% 14% 15%
Target 12% 12% 12%
Local Indie Record Store 6% 6% 5%

Source: Musicwatch, Inc., 2015

“While CDs might seem old-school in the digital music age, Americans still spent nearly two billion dollars on them last year,” said Russ Crupnick, founder and managing partner of MusicWatch. “Although music streaming and downloads have reduced sales, last year approximately 80 million people bought at least one music CD.”

According to the MusicWatch Profiler Report, a decade ago nearly 40 percent of CDs were purchased by consumers between the ages of 13 and 24. That number has been sliced in half, as consumers age 36 and older now account for nearly 60 percent of CD buyers.

Celebrating Vinyl

The RIAA has noted that the vinyl record, the main music format celebrated on Record Store Day, was the fastest growing music format in 2014. MusicWatch estimates that more than 16 million Americans age 13 and older bought new and used vinyl records last year. Amazon was the most popular shopping destination among vinyl record buyers.

Top Five Vinyl Record Retailers

Rank Outlet Share of Buyers
1 Amazon.com 39%
2 Best Buy 20%
3 (tie) Independent Record Stores 18%
3 (tie) ebay 18%
5 Swap Meet/Flea Market 17%

Source: MusicWatch, Inc. 2015

Half of vinyl record buyers are between the ages of 18 and 34; however, nearly one quarter of vinyl LP buyers were age 50 and older. “In some ways vinyl is the most appealing music format available today,” Crupnick said. “The format combines the collectability and connection to artists that younger fans desire, with the nostalgia that boomers value. No doubt there are also some older buyers, especially classical or jazz music listeners, who are convinced vinyl provides the absolute premium listening experience.”

Methodology note: The data referenced in this press release is from the MusicWatch Profiler Report, which was released in March 2015. MusicWatch surveyed 7,500 U.S. consumers, age 13 and older; results were projected to the US population.

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  2. great insights into the retailer segmentation, I would love to see a click-down view of the data. For example, what types and percentage of vinyl was purchased at each retailer (i.e. new vs. used). This would provide valuable insights into consumers purchasing behaviors.

  3. I really didn’t know that you could still get vinyl records! Some of the best music created was done with those. It would be pretty neat to get modern music and have it on a vinyl or even a cassette. With music stores, they will usually have a wide selection of music and the mediums they come in.

  4. Pingback: Vinyl Record Sales Reach New Heights – elsiemboskamp

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