Vinyl sales driven by midlifers - not hipsters

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Vinyl has had something of a resurgence in recent years and it is thought that annual sales could surpass the three million mark in the UK for the first time in decades.

But, according to a recent YouGov report, older buyers rather than young hipsters are behind the LPs transformation from obsolete format to modern success.

Strength to strength

While still a niche product compared with music streaming, vinyl sales have gone from strength to strength in recent years and saw a five-fold increase between 2009 and 2014, before doubling again the year after. Record sales in 2015 hit a 21-year high of 2.1 million units.

And, in the first three months of 2016, demand for LPs had doubled year on year compared with the first three months of 2015, jumping from 2 per cent to 4 per cent of UK music sales.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), commented: “While digital platforms provide fans instant and unlimited access to an ever-expanding cosmos of music, they can’t quite match the unique experience vinyl gives you - browsing for rare gems in your favourite record store, pouring over the cover art and sleeve notes and enjoying the ritual of carefully dropping the stylus onto an LP and savouring its analogue sound.”

Many reports put the growth in the format down to the ‘hipster’ market, with an ICM survey earlier this year suggesting that 50 per cent of vinyl buyers were under the age of 35, while the NPD Group suggested the figure was closer to 75 per cent

Middle-aged nostalgia

Data published this week by YouGov, however, indicated that it’s midlifers, rather than younger people who are fuelling the resurgence.

The YouGov Profiles figures showed that people between the ages of 45 and 54 are most likely to have bought a vinyl record recently whereas those in the 18 to 24 age group are the least likely.

The study also drew conclusions about the role music plays in vinyl buyers’ lives, suggesting that music plays a more central role in the lives of those that buy vinyl, compared with those who do not.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of vinyl buyers said that they couldn’t get through the day without listening to music, compared with 49 per cent of UK adults in general.

They are also more likely to go to gigs than the general population, with 68 per cent of vinyl buyers saying they enjoyed seeing their favourite artists live, compared to 47 per cent of the general population.

Industry support

Whichever segment is driving growth, it’s clear that the industry is embracing the format’s resurgence.

Universal Music UK, for example, has in recent years started offering independent music retailers special promotions on vinyl releases for Christmas and labels are throwing their support behind annual events such as Record Store Day.

Major supermarkets and high street chains have even jumped on the bandwagon and Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Urban Outfitters all stock a selection of vinyl records.

Who said vinyl was dead?