33,799,783 + Long Playing Records Pressed Worldwide in 2013! (Total Updated 2/13/14)

Note: Just spoke with representative from GZ Press who informed me last year's total was 10,000,000 not 7,000,000. He also said they expected to see a 40% increase in 2014 based upon received orders so far this year. Therefore the new total in the headline has been bumped up by 3,000,000..

Note: email just received from Polysom, Brasil. The pressing plant, which opened 2012, reports 40,541 LPs pressed in 2013 (+17,796 7" singles), which we've added to the worldwide total. The spokesperson says records pressed in 2013 was up 63% from the first year's operation and he expects it to be up 100% this year!).

Based on numbers publicly disclosed or provided to analogplanet.com by most of the world's vinyl pressing plants, the total number of records pressed worldwide in 2013 was well in excess of 30,799,783.

"Well in excess" because two major pressing plants refused to provide numbers. United Record Pressing in Nashville was unresponsive to analogplanet's request as was Optimal in Germany.

However, considering United's commercial success and size it would reasonable to add at least 4,000,000 units to that total given the numbers provided by other pressing plants that did cooperate. Optimal's total must be at least 1,000,000 as well.

The total therefore is probably closer to 35,000,000 and that omits pressing plants in Korea and South America.

We believe the numbers provided by the plants are accurate and that there is a strong correlation between actual albums pressed and records sold. We base that on the fact that plants press only what's ordered and what's ordered by record companies tends to be conservative in order to not build up expensive inventories.

So while the numbers include records pressed December of 2013, which wouldn't be sold until 2014, they do no include records pressed at the end of 2012, which were sold in 2013.

Therefore we feel reasonably safe in assuming that at least 30,000,000 records were sold in 2013, of which approximately 6,000,000 were sold domestically in America. However, based on the actual number of records pressed world-wide, we contend that the 6,000,000 record total reported by Nielsen/Soundscan well-underestimates actual 2013 American new vinyl sales and by a considerable amount. That though, is speculation.

Not speculative are the impressive pressing plant-supplied totals!

Turntable and Cartridge Sales

Many of the major high performance audio turntable manufacturers were willing to divulge their numbers but the "majors", Numark, Ion, Audio-Technica etc. were not (Panasonic stopped making Technics turntables last year, which doesn't seem to make sense, but then they also went out of the plasma TV business too, which seems to makes even less sense). While these brands are not considering "audiophile quality", they do include tone arms and cartridges of sufficient quality to not damage record grooves.

We did not contact Crosley because we didn't want to bestow legitimacy upon the groove chewers and we are dismayed to see that Jack White and Third Man Records, not to mention Insound.com, which is owned by a major label, pushes such dreck. By doing so, they are sowing the seeds of the coming vinyl retreat as young people buying $20 records and $60 turntables find their software becomes noisy and worn out after a small number of plays.

That said, from the numbers that were supplied, we can say in excess of 300,000 turntables sold last year and that means if you add the Numarks, Ions, Audio-Technica sales, it is safe to say approximately 1,000,000 turntables sold last year. Add Crosley and the number would probably double. We claim it is "safe" to say 1,000,000 because a few years ago Ion did reveal that it sold that many turntables.

As for cartridges, some of the smaller, "boutique" brands did not cooperate nor did Shure or Audio-Technica. However, of the ones that did, the number was well in excess of 100,000 new cartridges, not counting OEM cartridges sold to turntable manufacturers who supply cartridges with their turntables.

Retail online turntable and cartridge sellers had a banner year in 2013 but the numbers would be redundant with manufacturer sales. However, it is safe to say retail online high quality cartridge sales totaled well in excess of 15,000 and high quality (but not necessarily expensive) turntable sales were in excess of 7000 based on the limited information we were given.

But most important is the number of LPs pressed worldwide in 2013: more than thirty MILLION. Also worth noting and again repeating: CD sales continued their slide.

COMMENTS
Stu Morgenstern's picture

I imagine that if we were able to tally used record and vintage turntable sales the numbers would be astronomical! Thank you for your hard work.t

Superfuzz's picture

Good point, I am sure that by far, more used records are bought each year (and each day) than new records. I certainly buy more used. Every article I see about vinyl sales omits this, and doesn't even bother to speculate about used sales. I'm also pretty sure that more used turntables are bought everyday than new ones.

MicallefK's picture

I read somwhere that Rega claimed to have sold more tables in 2013 or 2012 than in the company's entire existence.

Similarly read that global LP sales were 177 million for 2012 .

Thoughts? Corrections? Bloviating ballyhoo?  And if we figured in used, holy moley. 

Michael Fremer's picture

Rega sold more turntables in 2013 than in any other year of its existence but not in the entirety of its existence. Perhaps 177 million LPs were sold worldwide counting used LP sales but even there I'd be skeptical.

MicallefK's picture

http://www.spin.com/articles/vinyl-sales-boom-177-million-record-1997/

Spin Mag: Vinyl Sales in 2012 Were the Highest Since ‘OK Computer' Was Released More than $177 million sold worldwide

Wonder where they got their facts...  

Jeffrey Lee's picture

You seem to be confusing Fremer's total number of LPs sold with Spin's sales figures. Two different things. Spin is citing $177 million in sales, and Mike is saying that more than 30 million actual LPs were sold.   

Paul Boudreau's picture

Cool info, thanks.  For comparison purposes, it would be interesting to have an estimate of the highest-selling year (sometime in the '80s?) and the lowest-selling year (late '90s?). 

Russo7516's picture

Long live the mighty LP . This is pleasent news. 

avrcguy's picture

I've been dying to see what you were gonna come up with here. Thanks for doing some 'real' reporting!

missouricatman's picture

If anyone would have the ability to coax some relevant data out of these companies, it would be you. Thanks for doing it. Pretty impressive volume for a media once declared dead, I'd say. 

Today's vinyl market is so different from the one the industry killed in favor of the higher-margin, lower resolution CD.  It's never going to be like it was - probably a good thing considering the quality of the wafer-thin pressings we had foisted upon us in the 70's & 80's - but perhaps it will get to a point where sales volume for vinyl and the equipment necessary to really appreciate it will allow more companies to offer lower cost options for those without fat wallets.  

It does seem to be going in the right direction, given recent "entry level" turntables are within the budgets of at least some people who want to play records in their dorm rooms or first apartments. 

And it sure doesn't hurt that many commercial, TV & movie producers think showing someone playing a record adds something to their message.  

Mommy - what's that thing spinning around while they're dancing? 

Martin's picture

Lots of turntables showing up in films and tv;

Oblivion - Tom Cruise - putting a record on in his hideaway house. 
Suits - tv series - the lawyer with his high end system and wall of vinyl
Dr. House - tv series - the guy with a Sota I think
Star Trek into Darkness - Captain Kirk junior playing records
Californication - that's a serious system Hank Moody has
The Mechanic - nice turntable worked into the plot - Jason Statham
Tomb Raider - a Rega P3 was in there
Contact - with Jodie Foster
Crazy, stupid, love - Ryan Gosling - using his turntable to seduce the ladies. An admirable use I must say :-) 
Looper - with Joseph Gordon Levitt - he takes it with him around the world. 
Blue Jasmine - recent Woody Allen movie. Most Woody Allen movies of the last few years have had a character with a turntable.
Equilibrium - Christian Bale. Nice performance of Beethovens fifth used nicely in the plot

And lots more I can't remember off the top of my head

jeff0000's picture

The Blacklist - Cyprus Agency episode. It's Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot) for Diane.

ravenacustic's picture

Actually, this incident and Mike's analogy to cables brings up an interesting point. 

Having spent a lot of time in music, not a violinist, but having been around them and playing a brass instrument myself, there aren't two instruments, even by the same maker which play or sound the same. Yes, not even brass instruments by the same manufacturer or even the same model. There is always the element of how musical instruments are made even in an age of cadcams and hi tech manufacturing. So, do all cables of the same brand and model sound the same? I have a friend who makes turntables, very expensive ones, who will admit that in spite of the fact that he makes his tables to the tightest specs he can, each one has its own personality when finished. When we auditon a cable or a component in our system, does the one we buy and listen to happily after the audition sound the same as the try out piece?

Rayman's picture

vinyl resurgence. The latest "Nashville" TV episode had an 'artist' talking about his recording on vinyl showing his "retro-futuristic' artistic side. He just "thinks it sounds the best".

I just cleaned up two used OPs of Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp" and America's "Hearts".

After a coupla spins on the record vacuum they sound better than any other medium. 

IOW stellar! When are we going to stop being surprised?!

PeterPani's picture

that in several months not one commercial record was released. Between 1990 and 2000 it was possible to buy a copy of nearly all new released vinyl. Today, if I visit an electronic megastore here in Vienna they have full racks of new vinyl. How many new records are released now each month? Several hundreds? Last months also more and more new commercial classical music is published on records. Sadly, still a weak point: Classical music wants to jump on the bandwaggon, but are not able to get the technique right. I guess on the recording chain of labels like Decca, DG, Universal everything is wrong: Low quality digital recording, CD digital processing, digital cutting heads. All new recorded commercial (I mean star artists) classical records are unlistenable. I am afraid that there new vinyl will not sell and the bosses will conclude wrongly that lovers of classic music do not buy vinyl and never will.

Martin's picture

There are at any one time around 3.5 Million LPs for sale on ebay America alone, then add Germany, France, UK and other countries. 

Then add in Amazon, which does a respectable trade in used LPs, plus GEMM, Discogs and various others. Then add in record stores, bricks and mortar stores. The used LP market must be on the same order or larger. 

It's a good point the poster above made, most of the classical music new vinyl releases I've listened to I have not bought. Why? Digital recording, multiple edits, unnatural sound, low quality sources, digital processing, etc., etc. From the major labels, Universal, DG, etc, putting a modern performance on, then comparing it to a vinyl recording of the same performance from the '60s virtually guarantees the modern performance will never get played again. 

rakalm's picture

Going back a bit more than a year, I have purchased at least 250 new ones alone.  Nearly all of allowance goes to vinyl these days.  This week alone 4 used and 3 new, all before Saturday which is my shopping day at my local record shop (Soundgarden).  I am finding the used market more attractive but it takes such patience.  Shopping in my basement has been great, digging out old vinyl I thought was history and finding that it sounds great when cleaned (by hand, my preference) is the most rewarding.  But I plan to do my part to keep the numbers Michael has cited going upwards.  Foreverly, La Honda (Rumer), and Graceland 25th are my newbies this week.  Thanks for all of your efforts Michael, your site is really inspiring.      

Michael Fremer's picture

So is your post!

kgbsunny's picture

You have to wonder how much demographics plays into this. WHO is buying these records and what will happen to the trend when these people go away.  Sure, the Regas of the world don't really care - the name of the game is to ride the trend as long as it lasts. Also, the implied connection between the record sales and the slide in CD sales is weak.  One has to consider alternative formats such as sales of digital downloads, including, dare I say, mp3's. 

Michael Fremer's picture

This is being driven by YOUNG PEOPLE buying alternative rock records, aided and abetted by the older folks.

Stu Morgenstern's picture

A few weeks ago I was rummaging through the used vinyl bins at a Goodwill when a young lady, about 8 years old, also began searching through the records. When her mother came over a few minutes later, I asked her about her daughter's interest in records. She replied that all her friends were collecting and playing them. Go figure!

Russo7516's picture

Micheal no matter how you slice this ,it is a great thing to see. The rise of the LP !  I am  glad .  Been collecting vinyl for years . Now my collection is getting larger .  I  speak with few younger guys that are into vinyl  and vintage stereo  stuff . I always tell them   a little tweak  here and there  good cables, and correct speaker placement and you be amazed by the sound . I have been making   cork isolation mats for the younger crowd now and they are loving the sound they get out of their turn tables . Funny what a little cork can do for sound . I sold a few already and now they want me to make more lol. Come to Brooklyn and see the shops . The scene is really cool .

Jim Tavegia's picture

The only thing that would stop this upward trend would be for a reduction in lps pressed. The vinyl game is on for good. People who have invested in at least a Project Debut Carbon will stay on board and buy new vinyl monthly.   

Marketing 101...it is not what it is, but  what is does that makes people customers. 

missouricatman's picture

For background, I'm a very light sleeper, a vivid dreamer and yes, one whose entire collection (some 6k - I lost count) consists of records purchased at thrift stores 5-75 miles from home and the occasional garage sale or Craigslist buy.  I look at new pressings with great longing, for while I know why they are priced the way they are, I just don't have the finances to investigate that part of the world of vinyl.   Same holds true for most of the new equipment.  I read about it, wish I could afford it, but the most I've been able to do is as finances permit, lay in all the parts to fully restore the Thorens TD-124/II a friend gave me (in need of restoration, but fully operational and he paid $4 for it).

Last night, this discussion about the resurgence of vinyl stuck with me after head hit pillow. I found myself hopping off the interestate somewhere in New Mexico and discovering a small town with what appeared to be an even smaller bookstore.  But when I went in, I saw mixed in with the book displays all manner of brand new records, some by new artists, some reissues of records I've always loved.  You know, the ones we bought early on and never really forgot.  

The records were all nicely displayed face forward on tables you could walk around, and walk around I did.  Every single record was the same price - $4.90.  Now I have no idea why my subconscious decided $4.90 was optimal, but clearly it did.  

I ended up buying one of every title they had.  

FormatOmnivore's picture

Like you, the price of these lovely new high-quality pressings is a bit off-putting, although the few I have bought have sounded great and were well-presented in good robust sleeves.

But the majority of my vinyl collection is second-hand. Charity shops used to be worth checking out for the occasional jackpot, but they are a lot more savvy about pricing their vinyl than they used to be.

I only have 2-3 thousand LPs, owing to poverty-fuelled selling of not-100%-loved albums to pay for food in more impoverished times. But it does mean that what I have is stuff I really couldn't make myself let go. What I've bought in more recent times has not been subjected to the same harsh winnowing, but maybe I should get back in the habit.

SET Man's picture

Hey!

    Well, that's good news indeed. But two things that bother me with new vinyl are quality of pressing and disclosure of master source.

    I don't mind paying more for albums that I like, $20-40 are except able. But what what pissed me off most sometime is the quality of the vinyl I get, noisy and shaped like a candy bowl that I just spent $20 or $30 for it. 

     And another thing is that they should come clean with the source of the master. I don't want to spend more money for a vinyl that were cut from 16bit file as CD.

    Now someone should bring back 78 shellac with new musics on them so I play them on my Victor, just kidding smiley

     

FormatOmnivore's picture

The recent 'message board' spoof from British satirical magazine picked up on this story... apologies if it's a bit small to read easily, but it's good for a laugh.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m217/pitch_2006/PI_FTMB_zpse43dd35b.jpg

Billf's picture

Thanks for posting. This is very funny and each entry could easily be authentic!

MikeTV's picture

I recently listed a vintage Lafayette turntable on craigslist.  I sold it to the art director for the TV show "LOUIE" (starring Louie CK) to be used in an episode.   So look out for it in season 4!

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