Canadians bought more vinyl, streamed more music in 2017

Despite last year’s surge of on-demand music streaming consumption, vinyl album sales in Canada are on the rise in a big way.

Released on Jan. 4 this year, the Year-End Music Report by Nielsen Music revealed that 2017 was the seventh consecutive year that vinyl albums saw a significant growth in sales.

Sloth Records, a Calgary-based business that has been around for more than 25 years, has seen a growing interest in vinyl records over the last decade.

“We’ve definitely noticed an increase in a lot of customers who are just starting to buy records,” said Sloth Records employee Don Vincent.

Data Source: Nielsen Music Canada. (Graphic by Stephanie Ball/The Press)

According to Nielsen Music, vinyl albums saw a 22 per cent increase in sales between 2016 and 2017. With approximately 804,000 units sold in 2017, last year marked the highest vinyl sales of the 21st century.

Sloth has also noticed an increase in mainstream artists releasing vinyl albums.

“Five or 10 years ago, albums from bigger artists wouldn’t have been released on vinyl because there wasn’t a market for that,” said Vincent.

“The way it’s marketed now, it has just become a really popular and trendy thing.”

Although vinyl records are trending among younger generations, consumers aren’t necessarily buying the most current titles.

Nielsen Music reported that catalogue titles (albums older than 18 months) represented the majority of sales in 2017.

Data Source: Nielsen Music Canada. (Graphic by Stephanie Ball/The Press)

Ed Sheeran’s Divide held the number one spot in vinyl sales in 2017, but The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon were close behind.

Airdrie resident Evyn Rissling received a record player for Christmas and since then has been enjoying his mother’s album collection from the ’60’s and ’70’s.

Like many other millennials who are keen to take part in what is known as the ‘vinyl revival,’ the 16-year-old recently paid a visit to Sloth Records to start building his own music library.

“Owning an album gives you a new affinity to [bands] by showing that you like them enough to buy a physical record,” said Rissling.

While there has been a resurgence in vinyl sales, it pales in comparison to the exponential growth that on-demand music streaming has seen in recent years.

On-demand music streaming services, such as Spotify or Apple Music, allow subscribers to play millions of songs from thousands of artists directly from computers or smartphones.

Many providers also allow users to download music, making offline playback a convenient option too.

In the last quarter of 2017 on-demand music streaming in Canada surpassed the 900 million per week mark, Nielsen Music reported.

The data shows that more and more Canadians are opting to stream their music, but some music fans refuse to join the masses.

“I don’t see the point in spending a lot of money on it because there’s nothing to actually keep,” Vincent of Sloth Records said.

For people like Vincent and Rissling, there’s something to be said for buying physical albums.

“When you buy an album, you have the album art, the lyrics, and whatever else is included in the packaging,” said Vincent.

“It’s a very different experience than simply streaming music from your computer.”

Data Source: Nielsen Music Canada. (Graphic by Stephanie Ball/The Press)
About Stephanie Ball 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Stephanie Ball worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.

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