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Vinyl records hit new sales high during lockdown, and even cassette tapes are booming says BPI

Vinyl record sales came within a groove of 5 million during 2020, according to new figures released by record industry body, the BPI.  

Despite continued growth in streaming, which now accounts for around 80 per cent of UK music consumption, sales of vinyl and audio cassettes surged during lockdown.  

Previewing its final music consumption figures, due for release January 4, the BPI says vinyl records now account for 18 per cent (that’s nearly 1 in 5) of all albums sold, with sales at their highest level since the early nineties. 4.8 million LPs were purchased in the UK over the past 12 months.

12-inch platters also generate almost twice as much in industry revenues as music video streaming platforms, such as YouTube.

Based on Official Charts Company data, classic titles topping 2020’s best seller list include Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Oasis’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and Nirvana’s grunge classic Nevermind

New studio albums leading the charge include AC/DC’s Power Up, Harry Styles’ Fine Line, Kylie Minogue’s Disco, and Ultra Mono by IDLES.  

Vinyl records generate almost twice as much in industry revenues as music video streaming platforms…

Music fans have rediscovered their love of vinyl

Vinyl LP sales initially dipped during the first lockdown but by September they began showing positive year-to-date growth for the first time.  Campaigns such as LoveRecordStores, Tim’s Twitter Online Listening Parties, Record Store Day, The Record Club and National Album Day helped to rally fans in support of indie record shops, specialist chains and the artist community.  

“In a year when all our lives have changed, music’s power to inspire has never been more evident,” says Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize. “The immediacy and convenience of streaming make it the go-to audio format for most of our listening, but more and more fans choose to get closer to their favourite artists and albums on vinyl.” It’s remarkable that LP and audio tape sales should have risen at all given the challenges we’ve all faced, he adds.  

The BPI will report its final music consumption figures on January 4 2021.

The best-selling vinyl albums for 2020 

  1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
  2. Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
  3. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
  4. Nirvana – Nevermind
  5. Harry Styles – Fine Line
  6. Kylie Minogue – Disco
  7. AC/DC – Power Up
  8. Queen – Greatest Hits
  9. IDLES – Ultra Mono
  10. Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Cassette sales at their highest since 2003 – but we’re betting few get played

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the BPI figures is the resurgence of the audio cassette. Still only a fraction of overall recorded music, cassettes are now tyoically released in limited edition format to support album releases, and therefore beome highly collectable (even if they’re never played). 

Final figures based on Official Charts data for 2020 will be confirmed on January 4, but we’re hearing that 157,000 tapes have been purchased during the past 12 months, twice the total of the year before and the most since 2003, when 243,000 tapes were sold (back then, Now 54 was the year’s biggest seller on the format).  

This marks an eighth year of consecutive growth for the format, which is finding a new market among music enthusiasts of all ages who value its retro, collectable appeal.

Popular titles released on cassette in 2020 include Lady Gaga’s Chromatica, 5 Seconds Of Summer’s Calm, which to date is the year’s fastest-seller, Yungblud’s Weird, and The 1975’s Notes On A Conditional Form. Other artists to have reeled in the fans on tape include South Korean all-girl pop band Blackpink, Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa, Haim and Kylie, whose 80s inspired Disco was a particular highlight of the year across all three main physical formats.

The best-selling cassette albums for 2020

  1. Lady Gaga – Chromatica
  2. 5 Seconds Of Summer – Calm
  3. Yungblud – Weird
  4. The 1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form                 
  5. Blackpink – The Album    
  6. Selena Gomez – Rare
  7. Kylie Minogue – Disco
  8. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
  9. Haim – Women In Music Pt III
  10. The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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