Vinyl album sales soared in 2012

MORGAN MERCER | Updated 1/29/2013

For five consecutive years, vinyl-loving listeners have ratcheted up sales to keep this small but dedicated market alive.


Associated Press

Turns out it’s still hip to plunk down a needle and listen to new music the old-fashioned way. For five consecutive years, vinyl-loving listeners have ratcheted up sales to keep this small but dedicated market alive and thriving.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, 2012 was another record-breaking year as vinyl album sales rose 17.7 percent from the previous year.

The top 10 vinyl albums of 2012 read like a playlist on 89.3 the Current (think: Mumford & Sons, Black Keys and Bon Iver). Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” topped the chart. But the band sitting in the No. 2 spot might come as a surprise.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the Nielsen Company & Billboard’s 2012 Music Industry Report:

  • In 2012, vinyl album sales hit 4.6 million, smashing the previous record of 3.9 million in 2011.
  • That total was higher than in any other year in the history of Nielsen SoundScan (dating to 1991).
  • But vinyl only accounted for 2.3 percent of all physical album sales. CD album sales hit 193 million.
  • Independent music stores dominated sales, handling 67 percent of all vinyl purchases.
  • Following White’s “Blunderbuss,” the No. 2 position belonged to the Beatles. The legendary band’s reissued “Abbey Road” from 1969 sold 30,000 copies, proving the British invasion is still hot the second time around.

Morgan Mercer is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.