The lasting appeal of CDs and vinyls: An analysis of Brits who buy physical music formats
May 12th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

The lasting appeal of CDs and vinyls: An analysis of Brits who buy physical music formats

The UK saw the sale of 5.5 million vinyl LPs in the last year. Accounting for more than half of all trade revenues from physical music sales, vinyl sales in 2022 grew 3.1% year-on-year to reach GBP 119.5 million, beating CD sales for the first time in more than three decades. Forced to close its doors in 2019 due to unprofitability and dwindling footfall, HMV’s iconic flagship store on London’s Oxford Street is all set to welcome music loving Brits once again, later this year. The brand, now owned by Sunrise Records and Entertainment, also recently announced its decision to focus on vinyl going forward.

In light of a surge in popularity, this analysis looks at the lasting appeal of formats like vinyl and CDs amongst Britons, particularly who’s buying them and where? Data from YouGov Profiles reveals that two-fifths of Britons (40%) say they like to purchase physical copies of their music.

The data also reveals that physical copies of music are preferred mostly by Britons aged 45-54 (43%) followed by Britons aged 55 and above (41%). But even a third of younger Brits (25-34-year-olds), who missed out on the pre-digital heyday of music shopping, say they like having a hard copy of their music purchases.

Interestingly, British men are significantly more likely to buy physical copies of their choice of music than British women (43% vs. 36%).

The data also reveals some interesting differences when it comes to Britons’ attitudes towards other paid musical experiences, streaming services and the release of music exclusively on a single platform.

Three out of five Britons who like purchasing CDs and vinyls (60%) indicate that they are happy to spend money to support their favourite music artists compared to a little more than two-fifths of Brits overall (44%).

Similarly, Britons who like to buy physical copies of music are far more likely to enjoy seeing their favourite music artists live than the general British population (68% vs 55%).

While more than one in two hard-copy buyers (56%) find it frustrating when music is released exclusively through one platform this proportion falls to less than a half when it comes to the Nat Rep (48%). On the other hand, they are less likely to use streaming services as their primary source of music than Brits overall (43% vs. 47%).

However, does the willingness to spend money on CDs and vinyl and other musical experiences actually translate to sales?

Among Brits who bought any music within the last year, more than a third bought a CD album (35%) in the last 30 days.

While a quarter of our respondents say they paid for their music via a streaming service subscription (24%), nearly a third of respondents (27%) say they haven’t bought any music in the last month.

Vinyl albums occupy the fifth spot, having been purchased by one-eighth of our respondents (12%), followed by vinyl singles, CD singles and DVD/Blu-ray albums in sixth place (11% each).

As for where these music enthusiasts buy their music, three out of five respondents say that they have purchased their music online (60%) compared to a third who have done so both online and in-store (30%). Only a tenth of respondents indicate that they have bought music only in-store (10%).

Respondents aged 55 and above (15%) are almost twice as likely to purchase music in-store than their younger counterparts aged 18-34 (8%) and 35-54 (8%). The new HMV store may be filled with pre-dominantly older shoppers, therefore.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for Great Britain is nationally representative of the online population and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash