BERLIN – Vinyl records, paper books, glossy magazines — all should be long dead, but they’re refusing to go away and even showing some surprising growth. It’s probably safe to assume that people will always consume content in some kind of physical shell — not just because we instinctively attach more value to physical goods than to digital ones, but because there will always be demand for independence from the huge corporations that push digital content on us.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl album sales grew 12.9 percent in dollar terms to $224 million and 6 percent in unit terms to 8.6 million in the first half of 2019, compared with the first six months of 2018. Compact disc sales held steady, and if the current dynamic holds, old-fashioned records will overtake CDs soon, offsetting the decline in other physical music sales. Streaming revenue grew faster for obvious reasons: It’s cheaper and more convenient. But people are clearly not about to give up a technology that hasn’t changed much since the 1960s.