The Resilience of Physical Music: A Deep Dive into CD and Vinyl Sales
As a platform for collectors and those who still cherish physical music, we’re always curious to know the real story behind the sales figures, especially in an era where we’re constantly told that no one buys CDs or any physical media anymore.
The new Lewis Capaldi album is the biggest selling album in the UK so far this year and it has been propelled into the number one position with a surge of 58,421 CDs next to 18,308 vinyl albums.
Recent Stats for UK Number One Albums
Lewis Capaldi – CD Sales 58,421 – Vinyl 18,308
Ed Sheeran – CD Sales 41,122 – Vinyl 8,124
Metallica – CD Sales 15,873 – Vinyl 6,292
As a passionate collector of both vinyl albums and CDs for a significant part of my life, I’m still deeply invested in discussing and sharing new releases, bands, and my musical memories. In this post, I aim to shed some light on the current state of physical music sales, building on the insights from last week’s post where we saw that music fans are still ardently supporting CDs.
Last week, we saw that Metallica sold 15,873 CDs and 6,292 vinyl albums for their latest release. Ed Sheeran, a completely different genre and demographic, sold 41,122 CDs and 8,000 vinyl albums. In both cases, the vinyl album was significantly more expensive than the CD, raising the question of whether price was a major factor in these sales figures.
This week, we’re looking at the sales of the number one album in the UK album charts, “Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent” by Lewis Capaldi. This album, the biggest selling album in the UK so far this year, sold a total of 95,882 copies, with physical sales making up 79,147 of that total.
Breaking down these physical sales, we see that Lewis Capaldi sold an impressive 58,421 CDs and 18,308 vinyl copies. The price difference between the CD and vinyl versions of this album was not as extreme as with Ed Sheeran or Metallica, suggesting that price may not have been the primary driver in this case.
Despite the constant media narrative that vinyl is the only cool physical media format and that CDs are dead, the CD has once again outsold vinyl. If the sales figures were reversed, with 60,000 vinyl copies and 18,000 CDs sold, this would undoubtedly have made the news. Yet, the fact that the CD outsold vinyl, even with all the bells and whistles of fancy pressings and album-sized booklets, has gone largely unnoticed.
This isn’t to say that CDs are better or leading the way, but rather to highlight that physical media, regardless of the format, still plays a significant role in the music industry. Physical sales make up about 14-15% of the overall album market, and for the UK album market, physical sales are crucial.
So, it’s time to let go of the preconception that CDs are dead or uncool. The sales figures for Lewis Capaldi’s album, as well as those for Ed Sheeran and Metallica, show that CDs are still very much alive and well.
In the end, whether you’re a multi-format fan who buys CDs for day-to-day listening and vinyl for special releases, or you strictly stick to one format, it’s clear that there’s still a strong market for physical music. Last week alone, physical album sales reached 337,063, making up 14.4% of overall album sales.
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine