Physical Music Sales Surge During Pandemic

Discogs, the online music marketplace has said that global sales of physical music formats have surged on the platform by almost 30 per cent in the last six months.

According to Far Out Magazine, online sales of vinyl, CD, and cassettes have rocketed by 29.69 per cent – which equates to 4,228,270 orders – between January and June this year, compared to the same period in 2019. There was a dramatic spike in sales from April, shortly after the lockdown measures were introduced, causing the closure of many physical record stores.

The report from Discogs attributes the increase in sales to a larger number of users turning to online shopping during the lockdown, as well as ‘a desire to support small business’.

The report also cites independent music retailers making their catalogues available online as a significant factor contributing to online sales as they were also forced to close their doors, as the governments around the world tried to prevent of the spread of the coronavirus.

Some independents had to take creative measures, such as Banquet Records in Kingston, who rather than reopening the premises completely as the lockdown was eased, the shop is directing customers to its website and offering a click-and-collect service from its car park.

The biggest year-on-year improvement was in vinyl record sales, rising by 33.72 per cent with over 5.8 million units sold, although CD and cassette sales were not far behind with a 31.03 per cent (1.6 million units sold) and 30.52 per cent (over 137,000 units) increase respectively.

Sales of vinyl records accounted for more than 75 per cent of transactions on Discogs in the first half of 2020.

But even before the advent of the pandemic, vinyl sales were still on the rise. Retailer Rough Trade reported selling more records than ever, with a 25 per cent increase year-on-year, and online sales during the lockdown increased so much, the music retailer needed to set up a dedicated fulfilment warehouse to cope with orders, according to the BBC.

Even as new music releases have been cut back, and many musicians have been unable to get into the studio to create new tracks, the figures have shown that people are hungry for music.

In all, over 7.6 million units of physical music were sold by independent retailers and sellers around the world in the first half of the year, an increase of 33.83 per cent.

“As sellers onboard more stock to the Marketplace, buyers turn to e-commerce with a desire to support small business, and music fans dig further into their own collections, visibility and availability are greater than ever,” the Discogs report reads.

“This trend should continue to grow as new customers become part of the Discogs Community and buying habits shift for the long term.”

The mid-year report also included data regarding the year’s best-selling releases through the platform, with Tame Impala‘s ‘The Slow Rush’, The Strokes‘ ‘The New Abnormal’, Khruangbin and Leon Bridges‘ ‘Texas Sun’ and Ozzy Osbourne‘s ‘Ordinary Man’ among the top sellers.

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