A Comeback Band is to Thank for Skyrocketing Vinyl and Cassette Sales

The UK has topped 5 million record sales for the first time since 1991 and it’s mostly thanks to one of the biggest comebacks the world has seen in a while. Abba released “Voyage”, their first new album in 40 years, selling 29,891 copes in its first week alone. Not long after, it became this century’s fastest selling vinyl, according to the Official Charts Company.

This year saw an uptick in vinyl sales by 8% over 2020 and it’s largely in thanks to the release of a few blockbuster albums by Adele (30), Ed Sheeran (Equals) and the aforementioned “Voyage” by Abba.

While “Voyage” sold tremendously well, Adele’s “30” is being partially blamed for the vinyl shortage. 500,000 pre-orders of the album most certainly strained the vinyl supply chain, but what’s mostly responsible is the demand for the actual vinyl material, not the companies’ ability to manufacture the albums.

The pandemic enabled many collectors to bulk up their record stash. In the United States, vinyl sales grew 29% in 2020 to $626 million according to the Record Industry Association of America.

But with one thing becoming more popular, other things fall to the wayside. CD sales saw a 12% dip in the last year, with only 14 million discs selling in the UK. It should be noted that this was the least amount sold since 1988, six years after the birth of the format.

Moreover, cassettes were more popular than CDs in 2021 as well, with demand climbing for the ninth straight year. Only 190,000 tapes were sold this year, the BBC noted that those numbers could be largely attributable to bundle deals, where artists sell signed cassettes with every CD or vinyl album purchase. Top-selling cassettes this year include: Queen’s “Greatest Hits”, Lana Del Rey’s “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” and, topping the charts, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour.”

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