Vinyl sales skyrocket in 2012, but remain tiny in proportion to the global digital global sales.

Vinyl sales 1997 - 2012 € Million

IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry) recently released it’s annual report on global recording industry numbers for 2012.  Among the growing sectors we see digital channels, 35% of overall industry trade revenues while physical sales continue to drop. Another clear trend is the growth of streaming services spearheaded by our Swedish friends at Spotify – the streaming services revenue now account for 20% of digital revenues globally, up from 14% in 2011.

From the house DJ perspective the most interesting point is that the vinyl sales have hit the highest point in 16 years with 12″s sold for 132 Million Euro in 2012 alone. Then vinyl sales are doubtlessly quite small compared with the overall CD sales that by the way dropped from €M 701 to €M 641 during 2012. Never-less the vinyl as a music medium continues to steadily grow appealing to a relatively small yet faithful niche of DJs, collectors and common hipsters.

The reason more and more DJs are switching back to vinyl is the current digital trends in the Electronic music scene. The barriers are gone as the “Do it yourself” tools are now available for all.  Anyone can make a track and release it on beatport / juno / spotify / itunes through digital aggreation services like TuneCore and CD Baby without going to a label. On the downside this means that the digital stores are overfilled with music with hardly any quality control where large portion of productions are quite poor.

Every DJ who’s been part of MP3 wave for the last 5-10 years is most likely to have over 15GB of digital music stored on the hard drive. And abundance can sometime be a curse as many DJs are starting to feel a bit fed-up with broken file libraries, no artwork and low quality free download files.

The vinyl offers something physical, limited and unique in a world of digital music overabundance. It’s a kind of “back to the roots” movement compareable wit fixed gear bixes, microfarms and leavened dough baking. And everyone loves a jacket with mesmerizing cover art. 

The house and techno labels are pressing more and more 12s to stand out from the rest and in order to supply the new growing demand. People who are buying vinyl as a collector item are probably just as many as people who are buying it for the sake DJing.

In the near future we will probably see an even higher growth of vinyl in the EDM scene. The new digital trends are about to unleash iPhone and Ipad DJs (Traktor for Iphone and iPad), while the streaming services as Revibe FB and Spotify App platform will soon be offering streaming DJ services. This will further fuel the need to stick out from the DJ-crowd and further accelerate the vinyl only DJ trend.

Needless to say, the vinyl pressing industry is going better than ever as the sales has quadrupled during the last 6 years. If you want to press your own vinyl we suggest Curved Pressings or Handle with care. For distribution make sure to get yourself a deal with Clone, Intergroove or Word and Sound.

From the completely opposite point of view, the vinyl house and techno scenes are extremely small compared to the global music mega machine. No matter how much the vinyl sales grow, they are still small compared to the dropping physical CD sales and completely tiny compared with digital download market.

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Finally here are some top vinyl only releases of 2012:

How about yours?

About Alex Esser:

DJ, surfer and entrepreneur residing in Malmö, Sweden. HMWL label daddy. My music network is always open. Holler at