Vinyl records enjoyed a staggering renaissance in 2016, with sales jumping to their highest level in 25 years as Millenials continued to discover the delights of listening to their favourite artists on 12-inch.
In what will be music to traditionalists’ ears, more than 3.2 million LPs were sold last year, a rise of 53% on 2015 and the highest annual total since 1991, when Simply Red’s Stars was the best-selling album.
David Bowie’s untimely death last January led to him becoming the best-selling vinyl artist of 2016, with five albums posthumously featuring in the top 30.
His Blackstar album, which was shortlisted for a Mercury Prize, was the most popular-selling album of the year, while Bowie fans kept his music alive by buying The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Nothing Has Changed and Changesonebowie.
It marks the ninth consecutive year that vinyl sales have grown, a far cry from the meagre 200,000 LPs sold in 2007.
While still niche products, LPs now account for nearly 5% of the albums market, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
At least 30 titles sold more than 10,000 copies in 2016, compared with just 10 the year before, boosted by events such as “record store day” and an increasing audience among younger fans.
The music industry as a whole is booming, with 123 million albums or their equivalent either streamed, bought in a physical format or downloaded in 2016, up 1.5% on the previous year, and the total volume of music consumed in 2016 was worth an estimated £1 billion.
Streaming services have also rocketed 500% since 2013 to an astonishing 45 billion audio streams in 2016 alone through digital services such as Spotify, Apple, Deezer and Tidal, equating to over 1,500 streams for every household in the UK.
December saw the milestone of one billion audio streams in a single week for the first time, underlying the growth of streaming as the format of choice for many music fans, with it now accounting for more than a third of all UK music consumption.
But while streaming and vinyl saw marked increases, sales of CDs were down by more than 10% – though the BPI said the format remains resilient.
Among artists, Coldplay and Adele dominated the charts, with Adele’s 25 the best-selling artist album for a second year, and total sales topping 3.2 million, based on Official Charts Company data.
Michael Ball and Alfie Boe’s duets album Together was the best-selling new release artist album of 2016, while Now 95 was the year’s best-selling album overall.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI and the Brit Awards, said: “Growth in UK music consumption in 2016 was fuelled by the explosive rise in audio streaming, which has increased 500% since 2013, and relative resilience from physical formats.
“Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the Nineties, and fans also bought and collected music on CD that they are discovering and enjoying through streaming services in ever larger numbers.
“We believe this performance is indicative of the promise of a new era for music, where recorded music’s investments in a digital future fuel compelling benefits for fans, artists and the entire music ecosystem.”