Vinyl record sales up 50.4% in 2021. Here’s what Birmingham shops have to say

Bham Now’er Nathan Watson browsing through the rock n’ roll section in Renaissance Records. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Don’t throw away that old CD player or turntable! According to a yearly report from music data compiler MRC Data, 2021 was a fantastic year for CD sales. For the first time since 2004, CD sales actually increased. Last year wasn’t just a good year for compact discs—apparently, vinyl album sales increased a massive 50.4% over 2020.

Why are people starting to buy more CDs and vinyl albums? We spoke with representatives from two record stores in Birmingham to learn more.

2021 Was a Great Year for Vinyl Albums and CDs

In an era where nearly the entire wealth of recorded music is available at the tip of your fingers, it seems odd that antiquated forms of recording—such as vinyl albums, compact discs, cassette tapes and more—are picking up popularity. Although physical forms of music saw a steady decline in popularity in the early 2000s due to digital download and streaming services, there has been a renewed interest in vinyl albums over the past decade.

Renaissance / Seasick Records
First opened in 2013, Seasick Records is a fan-favorite for new & used vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs and—believe it or not—haircuts! (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

According to MRC Data’s 2021 U.S. Year-End Report, overall consumption of music in all forms increased 11.3% last year. Interestingly, MRC Data noted that for the first time since they began tracking streaming music in 2008, streaming of current music declined. Instead, consumers saw renewed interest in old favorites or discovered older tracks.

MRC Data reported that consumers purchased 41.7 million vinyl albums in 2021, a massive 50.4% increase over 2020’s sales. In fact, consumer purchased 2+ million vinyl albums during the week leading up to December 23rd—just in time for the holidays!

Click here to read MRC Data’s 2021 U.S. Year-End Report.

Why are CD and Vinyl Sales Increasing?

Renaissance / Seasick Records
Jimmy Griffin of Renaissance Records showing off something else Renaissance sells—vintage Disney books! (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

To learn more about the renewed interest in vintage audio formats, Bham Now turned to Birmingham’s local experts: Jimmy Griffin of Renaissance Records and Dan Drinkard of Seasick Records.

Do you stock & sell more used or new vinyl albums or CDs?

Jimmy: “We always have more used records than new because the new pressings are so expensive. We do carry a handful of new releases, but we carry more classics because that’s usually what our customers want. It’s funny, some recent records can become classics, like Neutral Milk Hotel.

We carry nearly every sound format there is—78s, 7-inch records, 10-inch records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, etc. I sold a 3-inch CD yesterday—I bet there aren’t many of those in town!”

Renaissance / Seasick Records
New vinyl albums for sale at Seasick Records. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Have you noticed an increase in vinyl and CD sales over the last year? If so, why?

Dan: “We have sold a lot more vinyl in the last year. I think the recent popularity in vinyl is party due to the lower number of concerts in the past two years, due to the pandemic. Vinyl sales have been increasing for the past few years anyway, but when you don’t have concerts to go to, consumers want to spend that extra cash on music—and I think vinyl is the preferred medium for that.”

Why do you think consumers are picking up interest in vinyl albums and CDs?

Jimmy: “I think there’s a new trend in how people listen to music. Five years ago, people only wanted to listen to music on their phone; now they’re excited about getting a record player for Christmas. I’ve seen music collecting become a family hobby, with grandparents and parents coming in with their kids to buy records. People see that it’s fun to have a hard copy of your favorite recordings!”

Want to Hop on the Latest Music Trend?

Renaissance / Seasick Records
Jimmy Griffin snapped this picture of me browsing the collection at Renaissance Records. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Looking to pick up some new & used vinyl, CDs, cassettes and other physical forms of music? You’re in luck—there are lots of places to find them in Birmingham. Here are a few of my favorite local places to buy music:

Where do you go to purchase vinyl & CDs in Birmingham? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

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Nathan Watson
Originally from Leiper's Fork, Tennessee. Birmingham-Southern '19.
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