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80 Million Americans Bought at Least One Music CD in 2014

14 Apr, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Vinyl records represented the fastest-growing music format, according to the Recording Industry Association of America

The proliferation of music streaming, downloads, festivals and touring acts would suggest music retail has gone the way of pagers, vinyl records and CDs. And yet physical music product continues to resonate among consumers.

Indeed, nearly one in three Americans older than 13 bought at least one music CD in 2014. The physical music format accounted for $1.9 billion, or 32% of U.S. music revenue, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Amazon continued to lead the pack of CD retailers, with 26% market share (up from 23% in 2013), followed by Walmart (up 3% to 23%), Best Buy (up 1% to 15%) and Target (12%). Independent music stores — the driving force behind the RIAA’s “Record Store Day” on April 18 — accounted for 5% of U.S. CD sales.

A decade ago nearly 40% of CDs were purchased by consumers between the ages of 13 and 24. Now consumers age 36 and older account for about 60% of CD buyers, according to a March survey of 7,500 respondents age 13 and older.

“While CDs might seem old-school in the digital music age, Americans still spent nearly two billion dollars on them last year,” Russ Crupnick, founder of research firm MusicWatch, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the vinyl record was the fastest-growing music format in 2014. MusicWatch estimates that more than 16 million Americans age 13 and older bought vinyl records. Half of vinyl buyers are between the ages of 18 and 34, while 25% of are age 50 and older.

Amazon is the most popular shopping destination at 39% market share. Best Buy accounted for 20% of vinyl sales followed by indie music stores and eBay at 18%, and swap meets/flea markets at 17%.

“In some ways vinyl is the most appealing music format available today,” Crupnick said. “The format combines the collectability and connection to artists that younger fans desire, with the nostalgia that boomers value. No doubt there are also some older buyers who are convinced vinyl provides the absolute premium listening experience.”

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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