Vinyl Revival: Richmond Record Store Owners Weigh in on Vinyl Sales Surpassing CDs for the First Time Since 1987

by | Mar 14, 2023 | BUYING STUFF, COMMUNITY NEWS, MUSIC, SMALL BUSINESS

Hey, what do you know? Vinyl records have overtaken CD sales for the first time since 1987! According to RIAA, approximately 41 million vinyl albums were sold last year compared to 33 million CDs. It’s crazy to think that it took this long to happen. Even though streaming services still dominate the music industry, there’s been a renewed interest in physical music formats, especially vinyl records. As music lovers and collectors, we wanted to get the scoop straight from the source, so we talked to some of our favorite record store people at Plan9, Deep Grooves, Vinyl Conflict and Wax Moon here in Richmond.

vinyl records richmond va

Is there a difference between people who buy CDs vs records?

BOB, PLAN9 MUSIC:
In general new LP buyers are usually younger folks, while used LP buyers come from all age groups. Older “crate-diggers” mostly go for used LPs. We love ’em all. Younger kids buy used CDs because they’re more durable and cheaper than records. A lot of us, myself included, buy both.

You know, once you start trying to put people in categories, you’ll always find those who don’t fit. People change as they grow older, and they won’t always stick to the same habits. Imagine hearing a song that takes you off the beaten path, and suddenly, you’re searching for some obscure, underappreciated genre. Next thing you know, you’re learning how to buy used records, exploring Discogs, and bam! You’re doing things you’ve never done before to find music made by different people.

It might sound unlikely, but if recorded music is your thing, it could happen to you. We’ll be here before and after your transformation from a casual fan to a music fanatic. It’s fun, and that’s why we’re all about it.

JAY, DEEP GROOVE:
Since we only sell records, it’s hard to quantify differences. We do get people come in from time to time looking for CDs. They tend to be older, generally over 45 or so.

BOBBY, VINYL CONFLICT:
Younger folks mostly stick to digital music, but when they opt for a physical format, they tend to choose vinyl.

ANDREW, WAX MOON RECORDS: 
Record buyers often feel a sense of connection when buying vinyl records, which they don’t usually get from CDs. Vinyl tends to appreciate in value more, and the higher sound fidelity adds to the appeal. There’s something more personal about holding an album jacket, whereas the jewel case feels like a barrier. This sentiment is shared by those who prefer VHS tapes and laserdiscs over Blu-ray and DVDs. Similarly, customers at our other store, DawnStar Video Games, enjoy the feeling of holding game cartridges compared to game discs. Just like candlelight provides a warmth that a light bulb can’t match, the worn pages of a book offer a special touch that a cellphone screen can’t replicate.

Why would someone buy a CD now?

BOB, PLAN9 MUSIC:
As a customer and long-time employee, I enjoy CDs. The main advantage for me is their portability, allowing me to listen to music in the car. I’m not a fan of headphones, but I do enjoy Spotify.

JAY, DEEP GROOVE:
I still buy CDs for my car. I’m 68 and don’t stream or use Spotify. I think that’s still the case for some. Again, older demographically.

BOBBY, VINYL CONFLICT:
At this point people buying CD’s are supporting an artist directly, but rarely am I seeing new CD sales do well. we stopped selling new titles about 10 years ago with the exception of local artists, and even those do not have strong sales. I have not seen strong CD sales in 20 years.

At this point, people who buy CDs are usually trying to support an artist directly, but rarely am I seeing new CD sales do well. We stopped selling new titles about 10 years ago, except for local artists, and even their sales aren’t strong. I haven’t seen strong CD sales in 20 years.

ANDREW, WAX MOON RECORDS: 
CDs are typically more affordable than vinyl records and offer better sound quality than streaming music on digital platforms. Plus, owning a CD is like having a lifetime license to enjoy an album that no company can ever take away from you.

vinyl records richmond va

Does it surprise you that records are outselling CDs?

BOB, PLAN9 MUSIC:
There are a couple of reasons why LPs bring in more revenue than CDs. First, albums are usually two to three times more expensive than their CD counterparts. Second, there are quite a few releases that come out only on LP, and this trend is becoming more common.

JAY, DEEP GROOVE:
Ten years ago, I would have been surprised, but not anymore. As someone who has been in the business of selling records for the last 14 years, I have witnessed record sales steadily climb. The COVID-19 pandemic has actually been beneficial for the vinyl industry, resulting in a significant uptick in sales during the past two years.

BOBBY, VINYL CONFLICT:
Not at all. We only carry used CDs for the most part.

ANDREW, WAX MOON RECORDS: 
Honestly, I’m more surprised it took this long for vinyl to outsell CDs. With fewer cars and computers having CD players, CDs are heading in the same direction as cassettes – with a niche audience that still enjoys them. Records were once niche too, but now they’re clearly mainstream again, as you can find them in most big retail stores.

What genre of records do you sell the most of?

BOB, PLAN9 MUSIC:
When it comes to the types of records that sell the most, it’s not just limited to one genre. Sure, we sell loads of rock in all its sub-genres, but hip-hop albums fly off the shelves too. We also see plenty of soul, country, and jazz re-issues being bought. What’s surprised me lately, like in the last 5 years or so, is the popularity of country records and CDs. Artists like Sturgill, Stapleton, Maren Morris, Margo Price, and especially Billy Strings are really in demand. It’s interesting to see the interest coming from people who might not look like your typical country music fans.

JAY, DEEP GROOVE:
Our monthly sales include approximately 65% new vinyl and 35% used vinyl, spanning a wide range of genres from country to hip-hop.

BOBBY, VINYL CONFLICT:
Our top sellers are definitely the new arrivals in our used section. We see lots of sales for new domestic and international death metal LPs, as well as both used and new albums from our hip-hop section.

ANDREW, WAX MOON RECORDS: 
We sell a bunch of goth, hip-hop, heavy metal, anime/video game/horror soundtracks, techno, electronic, punk, classic rock, soul, funk, and indie rock. We offer a huge selection of records, videos, apparel, and even a horror-themed pinball arcade that’s open every day from 11-7. The games are set to free play, and admission is just $10 with no time limit. Come on in and have a blast.

Follow Plan9 Music @plan9music
Follow Deep Grove @groovedeep
Follow Vinyl Conflict @vinylconflict
Follow Wax Moon Records @waxmoonrecords

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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