By Cortney Harding
The year-end SoundScan numbers, released today, have a lot of minus signs. But one big exception is vinyl sales: While the numbers aren’t massive, they still rose 14% from 2009 to 2010, according to the Nielsen Company and Billboard’s 2010 Music Industry Report. In 2009, 2.5 million vinyl albums were sold; in 2010, that number rose to 2.8 million and cracked the Nielsen SoundScan sales record.
The 10 top-selling vinyl artists and artists in 2010 were split 60/40 between indie acts and heritage acts. The top three selling vinyl albums were the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” (35,000 units sold), the Arcade Fire’s “Suburbs” (18,800 units), and Black Keys “Brothers” (18,400 units). The top three selling vinyl artists were the Beatles (36,700 units), Black Keys (36,000 units), and Radiohead (30,500 units).
Other top sellers included Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Pavement, and the National. Heritage artists that saw top sales included Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, and Metallica.
While an uptick in sales is welcome news in any corner of the music industry, the raw numbers here are fairly small — overall album sales in 2010 came in at 443.4 million units. And as the top selling albums indicate, the vinyl audience is fairly self-selecting — as the top-selling vinyl artists show, hipsters and boomers dominate the niche market. In fact, vinyl sales account for only 4% of total sales for both Arcade Fire and Black Keys.