The digital revolution is in full swing, but music lovers around the world still appreciate the beauty of the B-side. As NME reports, vinyl sales in the UK eclipsed digital album downloads last week for the first time in history, according to data provided by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
The ERA—a UK trade organization representing retailers who sell physical and digital entertainment products—says that in Week 48 of 2016 (that's Monday, November 28 through Sunday, December 4), purchasers spent £2.4 million on vinyl. During the same time span, only £2.1 million was spent on digital album downloads.
These numbers illustrate a substantial shift in purchasing patterns from the same period last year, when audiophiles only spent £1.2 million on vinyl albums but shelled out £4.4 million on music downloads. Music lovers often prefer vinyl albums for their superior sound quality, but the question remains: Why are record sales exploding, especially when digital downloading platforms are now so ubiquitous?
The ERA attributes the phenomenon to factors including Record Store Day Black Friday (a new record sales promotional event held the day after Thanksgiving, modeled on the popular Record Store Day holiday), along with the increasing amount of retailers—ranging from music stores to supermarkets—that now sell records. In short, vinyl records are trendy again. Also, the BBC points out, album downloads have declined since streaming services (like Spotify and Pandora) have become more popular.
"This is yet further evidence of the ability of music fans to surprise us all," said ERA chief Kim Bayley in a statement (quoted by the BBC). "It's not so long ago that the digital download was meant to be the future. Few would have predicted that an album format, first invented in 1948 and based on stamping a groove into a piece of plastic, would now be outselling it in 2016."