The latest releases from David Bowie and Pink Floyd have given the vinyl comeback an extra jolt. According to Official Charts Company data from BPI, sales in the United Kingdom have now broken 1 million for the first time in nearly 20 years.
This past weekend marked the milestone, and unit sales are expected to finish off the year at 1.2 million. This unexpected boom represents the most vinyl consumption since 1996, when Fugees’ bestselling vinyl, The Score, pushed UK sales to 1.1 million.
UK music lovers snapped up 780,674 vinyl albums last year, thanks to Arctic Monkeys’ bestselling vinyl, AM. This album is also the top-seller this year, with Jack White’s Lazaretto nipping at its heels.
But David Bowie’s best-of collection, Nothing Has Changed, is currently reigning at No. 1 on the UK’s weekly Official Vinyl Chart. Pink Floyd’s The Endless River warmed up the spot for Bowie just last week.
The Endless River has broken a record as the fastest-selling vinyl album this century. 6,000 copies were sold in the very first week, making Pink Floyd’s release the most sudden vinyl explosion since 1997. “In scoring the biggest opening week for a vinyl album this millennium, Pink Floyd’s The Endless River illustrates the British public’s renewed love for this format,” said Martin Talbot, Chief Executive of Official Charts Company.
However, vinyl is still very much a niche product in the digital age. Comparatively, One Direction hit one billion streams on Spotify this week. Vinyl accounts for just 2% of the UK’s music market, while streaming pulls in 10% of the profits. But according to Talbot, the vinyl obsession is still on course to become a £20 million ($31 million) industry in the UK, “an incredible turnaround from barely £3 million ($4.7 million) just five years ago.”
“We have entered an exciting best-of-all-worlds era where there is space and scope for all kinds of music to be discovered and enjoyed in every type of way, including on vinyl once again,” said BPI spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo. “Many of us assumed it had become an obsolete format, but while the flame may have flickered, it never quite went out.”