How did vinyl record sales manage to overtake CD sales in the United States?

The resurrection of 33rpm records delights record dealers like Jamal Alnasr in New York, as well as his clientele of young collectors, nostalgic for a time they never knew.

This is a first since 1987 in the United States: sales of vinyl (41 million units) in 2022 surpassed those of CDs (33 million units), demonstrating the enthusiasm for this fashionable retro format. Beauty of the object for some, sound quality for others, this phenomenon has even revived the production of turntables with analog read heads.

At his New York store, Village Revival Records, Jamal Alnasr relishes this return to grace. “Who would have thought that vinyl would come back to life?“, smiles this 50-year-old man who left the West Bank as a teenager to settle in New York. For thirty years he has been selling new and second-hand vinyl in his store in Greenwich Village. Now “a new generation, kids, (come) to get all the music from the thirties, forties, and fifties“, he explains. “They know more than we, who grew up in the nineties or eighties‘ he laughs again.

The record store Jamal Alnasr in his shop

Warmer sound and covers for the wall

At Village Revival Records you can meet Vijay Damerla, 20 years old. The student admits that he mainly listens to music online, but although he doesn’t have a record player, he has started collecting vinyl, especially for the fine art of the covers. “It’s the equivalent of an artist poster or even an album poster on your wallhe explains, before adding:except that it is, in fact, a bit of a relic of the past“.

For Celine Court, 29, originally from the Netherlands and who claims to own 250 vinyls, the main thing is a nostalgia for a warmer sound, which we wouldn’t find with digital listening. “It’s so different“, she says. “There is a sense of authenticity that exudes“. Streaming, which continues to take the lion’s share (84% of the $15.9 billion in total music sales in the United States in 2022) is “too fast, too easy“, she believes.

Metallica just bought a pressing plant

There is such a craze for vinyl across the Atlantic that supermarkets like Walmart have adopted this format. As for stars like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles or Billie Eilish, they have factories running at full speed, overflowing with orders. This week, heavy metal band Metallica even bought one such waffle maker, Furnace Record Pressing, to meet demand for its own reissues.

Record store Jamal Alnasr, who has befriended stars such as Lana Del Rey, Rosalia and Bella Hadid, is ready to send a record to a VIP. But he prefers buyers to feel “physical experience“.”I want people to come here and rummage through the vinyl and be informed (…) They will see much more than the facade, there are many hidden gems hereexplains the enthusiast, who has a rotating stock of some 200,000 vinyls. His client Celine Court agrees: “He there is a better energy when you collect your vinyl, when you listen to it and are proud of it“.

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