Vinyl Records Outsell CDs in US

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. precede / prɪˈsid / (v) – to happen, exist, or come before someone or something else

    The detectives are investigating the events that preceded the crime.

  2. revenue / ˈrɛv ənˌyu / (n) – money earned or paid to a business

    The company earns millions of dollars through advertising revenue.

  3. plunge / plʌndʒ / (v) – to suddenly and drastically decrease in value or amount

    The politician’s approval rating plunged from 90% to 30% after his scandal.

  4. resurgence / riˈsɜr ʤəns / (n) – a time of growth or increase of interest in something after a period of little activity, occurrence, etc.

    There’s a resurgence of interest in ’90s fashion trends.

  5. niche / nɪtʃ / (n) – a specialized audience or market

    We found a niche store that only sells plant-based products.


Read the text below.

Vinyl records have been the top-selling physical media format in the United States for the first time in almost 40 years.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), vinyl record sales reached around $232 million, while CD sales only amounted to roughly $130 million. Vinyl records preceded cassette tapes and CDs as a media format, but while cassettes have not sold more than 100,000 units since 2003 and CD sales have declined by 95% since peaking in 2000, vinyl record sales have been increasing since 2005. RIAA revealed that vinyl record revenue went up by 4%, while CD revenue plunged by 48% in the first half of 2020.

Some music enthusiasts value the higher-quality sound from vinyl records because most digital music platforms compress music files, affecting sound quality. According to media outlet Billboard, vinyl albums hit their biggest weekly sales in September thanks to the first batch of music releases for Record Store Day, an event celebrating record store culture with exclusive vinyl record and CD launches and other activities. Over 800,000 vinyl albums were sold in the first few days of September. The top three best-selling records were Billie Eilish’s Live at Third Man Records, David Bowie’s ChangesNowBowie, and Taylor Swift’s Folklore.

Even with the resurgence of vinyl records, the RIAA found that all physical formats have become niche products now that most people subscribe to music streaming on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. In the first half of 2020, streaming increased by 12% to $4.8 billion. RIAA reported that streaming brought in 85% of music revenue during those six months, making it the dominant music format.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think music stores should put more effort into increasing the sales of other physical formats like cassettes and CDs? Why or why not?
• Which is more important to you as a consumer, convenience (e.g. streaming) or sound quality (e.g. records)? Explain.

Discussion B

• Do you think digital formats (e.g. mp3 files, e-books) are better than physical formats (e.g. CDs, physical books)? Why or why not?
• Do you think physical formats will ever fully go away in the future? Why or why not?