2021 in Music: vinyls & cassettes continue to take off


New figures will be released by the association of record companies BPI using Official card company the data will show that purchases of vinyl records and audio cassettes in 2021 have continued to soar in recent years. Fans continued to show their love for the album in physical format while continuing to stream in ever-increasing numbers.

Music consumption figures for the year 2021, including 2021 streaming data, to be released on January 4e 2022

The ability of fans to discover and enjoy the music they love has never been greater – with classic and new albums on vinyl, CDs, downloads and cassettes complementing the availability of over 70 million songs available on the streaming services. UK labels, including hundreds of small independents across the country, draw on the passion and knowledge of artists and employees to create this choice for fans and invest hundreds of millions each year in a wide range of new and established talent across all genres, promoting their new music with 24/7 global marketing.

Vinyl purchases at their highest level in over three decades

Within days of the end of 2021, more than 5 million LPs have already been purchased in the past 12 months – a jump of 8% or more from 2020 and a 14e consecutive year of growth since the format’s low point in 2007. Vinyl will have accounted for nearly a quarter of album purchases in 2021 (expected 23%), estimated at its highest level since 1990, when Phil Collins’ But seriously was the best-selling title.

Over 100 album tracks sold over 5,000 copies on vinyl LP in 2021 (a large number selling over 2,000 copies in release week), while over 900 titles sold over of 1000 copies on LP. The title with the biggest sales in the first week was ABBA’s Trip (29,891) – the fastest vinyl seller of this century according to Official Charts.

Among the albums expected to be heralded as the year’s best sellers by the official charts are classic LPs from iconic artists such as Back to black through Amy winehouse (reissued to coincide with National Day of the album to mark its 15e birthday) and Rumors through Fleetwood Mac as well as major releases for 2021, including ABBA‘s Trip, Adele‘s 30, Sam fender‘s Seventeen in progress, Ed sheeran‘s = and Wolf alice‘s Blue weekend.

Vinyl sales have been propelled through 2021 thanks to a hybrid between in-store and online sales, as independent stores and specialty chains such as HMV once again stepped up their offering in a tough retail environment. , supported by events such as National album day, Record Store Day, The disc club and Tim’s Twitter listening evenings.

Geoff Taylor, Managing Director BPI, BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize, noted: “Now is a great time to be a music fan, with more choice than ever before backed by great value. With record companies’ investment in new music and talent, fans can buy and collect the music they love most on vinyl, CDs and even cassette tape, while enjoying access to over 70 million songs to stream instantly when and how often they want, in turn empowering a new generation of artists to create music and pursue successful careers in a global marketplace.

BPI to release final music consumption figures, including 2021 streaming data, on January 4e 2022.

Best-selling vinyl albums scheduled for 2021 (Based on data from official YTD charts)

  1. ABBA – Trip
  2. Adele – 30
  3. Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
  4. Ed Sheeran – =
  5. Amy Winehouse – Back to black

CD decline rate slows

The compact disc has shown a decline in demand for 17 years now, as fans began to turn to downloads in the 2000s and have had access to music through streaming services for over 10 years. The decline in CD sales fell from 27% per year between 2018 and 2020 to just -12% expected in 2021, with sales boosted by CD-tailored releases from superstar artists such as Adele, Ed Sheeran and ABBA. This suggests that the reduction in demand for the format, which is approaching its 40e anniversary, may be bottoming out thanks to a core of baby boomers and newer fans who remain committed to the audio format.

The Cassette Awakening Grows – 9e consecutive year of growth

Although still only a fraction of overall UK recorded music consumption and have often been released in limited editions, cassettes are now standard on many album releases. Final figures for 2021 are expected to show that around 190,000 tapes have been purchased in the past 12 months, an increase of around one-fifth (20%) from the year and the highest amount since 2003, when 243,000 tapes have been sold and Now 54 was the format’s biggest seller of the year. This is the ninth consecutive year of growth for the format, which finds a new market among music lovers of all ages who appreciate its retro and collectable appeal.

Among the most popular titles released on cassette in 2021 were Olivia rodrigo‘s Sour, Dave‘s We’re all alone in this set and Cold game‘s Music of the Spheres.

Best-selling cassette albums for 2021 (Based on data from official YTD charts)

  1. Olivia rodrigo – sour
  2. Dave – We’re all alone in this set
  3. Lana del Rey – Chemtrails on the country club
  4. Queen – The biggest hits
  5. Cold game – Music of the Spheres

Physical format releases play an essential “kingmaker” role in the success of No. 1 on the official album chart

More often than not, having an album available in physical formats plays a central role in an artists’ ability to reach # 1 albums in the official album chart. In 2021 to date, in 40 of the 52 weeks of the year, the album that topped the charts has done so through combined purchases of CDs, vinyls and cassettes accounting for more than half of the consumption of the album in the week it became # 1 – a trend exemplified by Adele’s album 30, which in its first five weeks of release saw 75% of its sales in the charts attributable to purchases of physical formats.

In total, over 240 album titles have been purchased over 10,000 times over the past year across all physical formats (vinyl, CD and cassette).

Drew Hill, MD Appropriate Music Distribution, noted: It has been an amazing year for CDs, vinyls and cassettes as they continued to push albums up the charts. This year, nearly 90% of No.1 single albums reached No. 1 thanks to a majority of physical sales, with hugely impressive numbers from Adele, whose new album maintained its leading position with a growing physical majority share, and ABBA, which claimed the best-selling vinyl title of the century. This is further proof that in this golden age of choice, music fans truly treasure an album they can hold! “

Please note that the reported figures are not yet final and will be confirmed on 4e January 2022, date on which the BPI publishes its musical consumption report for 2021.


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