Official Charts Company releases impressive figures for UK vinyl sales over the last year. But are the figures as good as they first seem?

In the latest update to the story of vinyl’s continued resurgence, Music Week reports the Official Charts Company’s latest figures for vinyl sales in the UK in 2012. The news appears to be good, with vinyl sales increasing by 15.5% on 2011’s figures.

So Solid Crew. Wait, what?

So Solid Crew. Wait, what?

The grand total of 389,000 LPs seems impressive (singles and EPs aren’t mentioned), but when put into context of the industry as a whole it’s still a tiny fraction of total sales in the UK. The BBC reports BPI/Official Charts Company figures which reveal that CD album sales in the UK fell by 20% to 69.4m last year, while digital sales rose by 14.8% to 30.5m.

As such, vinyl represents less 0.4% of UK album sales in a year when album sales declined by 11.2% overall. A year when Rihanna topped the charts by selling a record-breakingly low 9,578 copies of Talk That Talk.

The story of vinyl’s enduring popularity has been repeated endlessly over the last few years (largely thanks to carefully timed press releases from parties with vested interests in increasing vinyl sales). Dance music is often seen as a key piece of that puzzle thanks to vinyl’s continued popularity as a format for DJs and the emergence of numerous vinyl-focussed labels. Even taking into account the fact that the vast majority of dance music is singles-based rather than albums-based, the Official Chart Company’s list of the biggest sellers of 2012 appears to debunk that theory:

  1. The xx – Coexist
  2. David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
  3. Jack White – Blunderbuss
  4. Adele – 21
  5. Tame Impala – Lonerism
  6. Bob Dylan – Tempest
  7. Beach House – Bloom
  8. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
  9. Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots
  10. Pink Floyd – The Wall

Curiously, Music Week also reports that So Solid Crew‘s 2000 debut ‘Oh No (Sentimental Things)’ is the third biggest-selling vinyl album of the 21st century, which is all the more impressive when you consider that it’s not an album.

4th January, 2013

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