Vinyl sales are skyrocketing thanks to Abba

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Save your nostalgia for CDs — records are selling just fine.

Thanks to a handful of big name musicians, vinyl sales skyrocketed this year, with the BBC reporting that the UK topped 5 million record sales for the first time since 1991. 

Indeed, the past 12 months saw vinyl sales up 8% over 2020, an increase partially due to the release of a few blockbuster albums by the likes of Adele, Ed Sheeran and most markedly, Abba.

The Swedish super group’s release of “Voyage,” their first new album in over 40 years, sold 29,891 copies in its first week alone and soon became this century’s fastest vinyl seller, according to the Official Charts Company.

While Abba overshadowed Adele, the English crooner’s new album “30” sold so well on vinyl that it is being partially blamed for causing a vinyl shortage. Although the 500,000 pre-orders of her album certainly strained the vinyl supply chain, more to blame is the fact that there is currently far more demand for the material than there is manufacturing capacity for it.

It also helped that collectors tended to have more time to bulk up their record stash during the pandemic. In the US, sales of vinyl grew 29% in 2020 to $626 million, according to the Record Industry Association of America.

CDs, meanwhile, saw sales drop 12% since last year, with only 14 million discs selling in the UK — the least amount since 1988, six years after the format was born in the nation. 

Swedish music band Abba’s international releases are displayed at the Abba museum in Stockholm on Nov. 5, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

Cassettes saw more success than CDs in 2021, with sales increasing for the ninth year in a row. Still, the sale amount is relatively tiny, with just 190,000 tapes sold this year. That trend may also be more attributable not to format popularity but bundle deals, in which artists sell signed cassettes with every CD or vinyl album purchase, the BBC noted.

This year’s top-selling cassettes included Queen’s “Greatest Hits,” Lana Del Rey’s “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” and in the No. 1 slot, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour.”

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