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The Growth of Vinyl Records in 2020

Last week it was reported that 2020 was a new high for vinyl sales in the UK. Nearly 5 million records were sold in 2020 marking it a 21st century record and the highest total since the early Nineties. As a record lover myself this was great news to hear, I was glad that other people were buying records as well to support the industry, especially during the pandemic. I started buying vinyl records almost 4 years ago now and in that time my collection has grown quite a lot as I now own over 100 records.

I think the main reason I started buying records was because they were just bigger versions of the cd’s I was already buying. This meant bigger artwork and an even more physical connection with the album, something that is important to me. Of course I have grown to love them more and the art of how vinyl records are made and the choices that bands make when releasing their albums. Something I have seen a lot online, especially on Instagram, that I think contributes to this new generation of vinyl lovers, is the aesthetic of it. In an age more digital than ever more and more younger people are going out and buying record players and accompanying records. I think it might have to do with wanting something tangible, something to hold and show off.

Another reason that I think is adding to this is the fact that many records being released now are coloured or have cool posters with them. A lot of them are exclusive and seen as collector’s items. I love a good coloured record, I think it makes it more interesting and adds to the experience you already get with a record, however I do still buy normal records as most of the time it’s the music I want to listen to. Saying that, I probably have about equal amounts in coloured records vs normal records, if not more coloured ones. This is something I hadn’t seen much before the 21st century, other than maybe on a few Flexi discs my Dad owns.

For fans of musicians such as Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish or Harry Styles having these exclusive items are special and it means a lot. I think that’s why Harry Styles’ Fine Line made the top 10 best-selling vinyl records of 2020, alongside albums such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and Nirvana’s Nevermind. The other genre I see a lot of really cool exclusives and a lot of collectors in is the pop-punk and alternative rock categories. Bands such as Neck Deep, State Champs and Boston Manor have had some really nice pressings over the years.

Until about 2014 I wasn’t aware that vinyl was pressed for newer artists. I was aware that you could still buy older albums and knew of the record as a physical music format but I hadn’t seen some of the music that I listened to on vinyl, so I guess I wasn’t interested until after then. It took seeing Ed Sheeran’s ‘X’ in a shop somewhere for me to look into it more. I had seen my Dad’s record collection but at the time we didn’t have a working record player so I hadn’t really listened to anything on vinyl. It wasn’t until my parents got a new record player to listen to these old records that I bought my first record, Black Holes & Revelations by Muse (naturally).

Another thing that really got me into collecting records and discovering new music regularly was Flying Vinyl, a subscription service where you can get 5 7 inch singles through your door every month for £20. These records consisted of some incredible new artists that were on the rise. I have discovered so many amazing artists through this service including Isaac Gracie, Milk Teeth, and VANT. Craig Evans who founded Flying Vinyl has also since launched Blood Records, a platform for exclusively pressed vinyl records from top alternative artists, signed, limited and hand-numbered to ordered. They have done some amazing pressings recently and I am always checking what ones are being announced.

Vinyl albums now account for almost one in five of all albums purchased in the UK, with sales generating twice as much revenue for the industry as music video streaming platforms such as YouTube. I think this is a great statistic to see, seeing physical music sales being almost equal to streaming music stats gives me faith that the industry won’t be lost to streaming. Yes, I know I use Spotify a lot, which is the side of my music consumption that everyone online sees, but I also listen to records all the time and that’s my favourite way to listen to music. I think it’s important to support artists through buying physical music, merchandise or going to gigs (virtual or in real life). (Anyone who knows me personally knows that these are probably some of the things that define me at first, I’m the one wearing the band tees, with the record collection who goes to gigs often.)

So why in 2020 has vinyl reached this high? Many thought that due to the pandemic we would see a fall in sales this year, but I guess being at home made people want to connect more. Other events throughout the year such as LoveRecordStores, Tim’s Twitter Online Listening Parties (both in March), Record Store Day (postponed to June but with extra events), The Record Club and National Album Day (in October) helped to support indie record shops, specialist chains and the artist community.

Although we have seen a resurgence in vinyl sales, a lot of the best selling albums are still older records. This could be younger people discovering these albums, adults buying the albums they grew up listening to or just people filling the holes in their collection.

The top 10 best selling vinyl albums of 2020 are:

1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

2. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

3. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

4. Nirvana – Nevermind

5. Harry Styles – Fine Line

6. Kylie Minogue – Disco

7. Queen – Greatest Hits

8. AC/DC – Power Up

9. Arctic Monkeys – Live at the Royal Albert Hall

10. IDLES – Ultra Mono

It’s really good to see a mix of albums there too.

So, in conclusion, it’s really great to see the rise of vinyl sales still going up even in 2020. Physical music is something that I really love and I hope that maybe I’ve convinced some of you to dust off your old record players or maybe think about getting one for yourself. Let me know in the comments below or on social media what record you have been buying recently, or what ones you would buy.

I hope you’re all doing well, I have some really exciting things on the way soon that I am so excited to share with you so keep an eye out for those.

Thank you for reading, until next time…

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