Nielsen Soundscan's mid-year numbers are in, and despite the economic doom and gloom being reported by news outlets across the land, it would seem Americans have a lot to be optimistic about.
Soundscan is the music industry's data information service and tracks sales at the point of purchase. It's reporting that overall music sales, which include singles, CD's and digital tracks is at 821 million units sold versus 756 for 2010, an 8.5 percent increase.
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But perhaps most impressive was the LP category which saw vinyl records increase from 1.3 million sales last year to 1.9 this year. That's 41 percent for you English majors, and the year is only half over. This is the first time Nielsen has recorded a mid-year increase for U.S. music sales since 2004.
So do we take the sudden resilience of the record industry as a sign that the economy is recovering? I'm not Allen Greenspan, so I won't say. But new vinyl records could conceivably be considered luxury items. They require the buyer to purchase every song on the album as opposed to picking and choosing their favorites on iTunes and saving a few bucks. And the bigger art work and colored vinyl doesn't come cheap. Consider Kanye West's album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. You could purchase the deluxe edition on CD at Amazon.com new right now for $18.25. The LP version will set you back $29.38. Furthermore, consider those turntables, which unlike your PC, only do one thing--they play music and they require replacement parts, which cost money.
It looks like people are getting back into the vibe of spending money to listen to music the way they want, or at least trying harder to look cool doing it.