30,902,000 Records Pressed in 2015---And That's With A Fraction of "Precincts Reporting"

Yesterday, Analogplanet sent around to vinyl producers worldwide our annual pressing plant totals request.

We've heard back from most of the European factories and one American pressing plant and the total number of long playing records pressed in 2015 so far reported comes to (drum roll) 30,902,000. That's THIRTY MILLION PLUS.

With more to come. This won't be updated again until we have complete totals.

Nielsen/Soundscan reports that a total of 11,900,000 LPs were sold in America in 2015. Once again I think they are not counting much beyond their fingers and toes.

BTW: the photo is of stacks of lacquers taken at the old Elizabeth, New Jersey TRANSCO lacquer manufacturing facility back in the early 1990's.

Kirby's picture

Maybe from the Majors only...

J. Carter's picture

That would include all records but it doesn't include numbers from many if not most independent record stores. You know, the ones that have the long lines in front of them on Record Store Day.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is domestic number reported by Nielsen/Soundscan but it includes indie sales too but only at the retailers on N/S's radar.
tube dog's picture

The majority of these records are nothing more than big black CDs and as such not worth listening to.

fetuso's picture

I presume you mean because most records are being cut from digital files. I see your point, but the thing about records that I like is that the music on them is not as dynamically compressed as it is on cd's. It's one of the reasons I purchased a turntable a few months ago. I've also mostly been buying AAA releases. I do wish that the music industry would stop the dynamic range compression madness.

J. Carter's picture

Most record masters are the same dynamically compressed master that they use for the CD. There are some exceptions but not as many as you might think.

The industry is starting to come around and most releases aren't as dynamically compressed as there even a couple of years ago.

Michael Fremer's picture
Do you get your information?
my new username's picture

Cutting from a 16-bit file might have been the norm in the '90s when that's what "digital" meant until 24-bit became practical.

Investing in a good analog front end means you don't need to update your DAC as often. Listening to LPs cut from digital files bypasses that step neatly, AND nets you the nicer experience of working with LPs.

Michael Lavorgna, LP lover and boss over at sister site Audiostream.com penned a spot-on essay on experience vs mere (and ambiguous) "enjoyment." I don't think its a coincidence several references to LPs are mentioned there > http://www.audiostream.com/content/listening-experience

Mendo's picture

This is sadly true. It's another area of education that audiophiles need to take up.

Michael Fremer's picture
among the dumbest comments ever posted on this website. Congratulations!
Hajidub's picture

Mr. Fremer please keep these comments to a minimum when I'm drinking! I almost destroyed a nice analog setup!

foxhall's picture

Impressive numbers especially since it seems the pressing facilities are still expanding.

I'm betting you've reported the year-to-year trends but what kind of an increase are we talking about from 2014?

Michael Fremer's picture
Says up around 29% domestic sales.
tube dog's picture

is entitled to their own opinion, but I didn't invest in an expensive analog front end to listen to digitally recorded vinyl. If I want cd sound I'll listen to cds. But I don't and I won't.

Michael Fremer's picture
A big difference between a CD and a record cut from 96/24 file. As there is between a CD decoded at home and a record cut from a CD resolution file decoded by the best D/A converters. AND there is something about the vinyl cutting process (according to Bernie Grundman) that makes digital more listenable-- in the end all I care about is the sound, not how it was created...
tube dog's picture

Compare "Ticket to Ride" here with an original U.K. original pressing. Even though on the original it's the last of seven songs on the side, the original kills the new version in terms of spaciousness, stage width and depth, dynamics and of course transparency. The digits still destroy the 'breath of life'. This of course is from the Beatles 1 record you just reviewed. Am I missing something?

Mendo's picture

Everyone go ask your neighborhood record store if Nielsen/Soundscan has ever asked them for their sale numbers. Probably from Best Buy, Amazon, etc. 10 years ago I told my local guy he won't be in business unless he embraces LPs. He tells me overtime I'm in that vinyl keeps the doors open and are well more than 50 % of his sales.

Mikey, head swell time: I wish I could put a number to your responsibility for the LPs success. Since your first "Analog Corner" the LP's growth has been tremendous and NOBODY on the planet is more responsible than you are for that. Your championing of the LP and good sound has been so, so impressive over the years. I count count how many people you've taken to task.I told my wife that I need to make a pilgrimage to New Jersey to visit Mikey F. and sit in his chair.

J. Carter's picture

One thing to keep in mind is that many of the record sales that these neighborhood record stores get are used records. That is not to say that new records aren't selling really well but I would estimate that over 50% of the record sales at mom and pop shops are used records.

Rudy's picture

In my area, used records are the bulk of the shops' business. Encore Records (which Mikey visited in November) is pretty much wall-to-wall used vinyl. And in fact, back when I shopped there prior to Dale selling it out, there wasn't a single new audiophile record in the entire place. Sadly I haven't had time to go out there recently to see what changes the new owners have made.

The store closest to me is not all that great quality-wise. In speaking to the owner, he only sees new records being an inconvenience, and doesn't "get" why spending $30 on a new 180g record is any better than picking up a $5 used copy of the same title on the other side of the store. (And he lives close enough that I've thought of inviting him over for a listening session; someone in this area has to be the Vinyl Good Will Ambassador!) A big music store in Dearborn has similarly ratty used vinyl but they, too, have far more used records than new (which take up only perhaps two or three rows of bins among a dozen or more).

Michael Fremer's picture
Are more responsible for this than am I---especially Mike Hobson and Chad Kassem in the audiophile realm and plenty of others. Together we all helped make this happen!
Rudy's picture

They do make it happen to an extent but I would say they wouldn't be where they are at today without sites like Analog Planet to promote the new releases and educate everyone on today's vinyl. Some of the mainstream press out there still think vinyl is all about scratches, hipsters and listeners hopelessly stuck in the past listening on archaic equipment. I've sent others to Analog Planet and similar sites/blogs for an "education" rather than subject them to the misinformation out there. I do what little I can, and even in my limited capacity have opened a few eyes (and ears) in the process.

Jim Tavegia's picture

The negative comments here often show a lack of math knowledge. When this happens you can't grasp the concept of what improvements 24/96 or 24/192 bring or really understand the math and science of LP pressing and cutting in 2015 and 2016 and the advances in press technology. There has got to be an MP3 forum you would be happier on.

Preston's picture

+1 to Jim Tavegia's comment (and others above) re digital on vinyl. I only care if it sounds good. Period. I think I read somewhere that most cutting heads can't handle (cut) signals with frequencies much above 25 kHz. (I'd like more confirming information on that.) I try to buy AAA LPs too, but I don't get too excited if someone cuts from high resolution digital. This is especially true if you listen to newer music. On re-issues, in most cases it's AAA all the way.

J. Carter's picture

Cutting heads do get to hot and can get damaged if the upper frequencies are too loud. Many cutting professionals put a low pass filter on at around 15-18kHz. The audiophile labels tend to just lower the frequencies to tolerable levels for the cutting head.

Michael Fremer's picture
There are filters that limit HF response on cutter heads but these are gently sloped filters and not brick wall filters.....as found in the digital domain..
mrl1957's picture

Wouldn't mastering at half speed relieve some of the thermal stress on the cutting head (I think MFSL used to make that claim)? Or is that idea wiped away by the 2X cutting time?

garrard201's picture

Here's a good article from last year on where all those "unaccounted-for" albums might be going ... they sell under-the-radar! http://www.wksu.org/news/story/42859

Michael Fremer's picture
I know him. He's fighting in the vinyl trenches with the rest of us....good guy!
SteveRB's picture

My habits are about 60//40 new vs used records; and not just dollar bin stuff. That puts the total 'sales' closer to 75M.

It would be interesting to get units sold info from Discogs. I wouldn't be surprised if they do 30M units per year.

SteveRB's picture

*sorry 40//60 new vs used...

LaserRanger's picture

Vinyl sales up 29% in 2015, but wasn't it something like 40-50% in 2014? Growth is slowing. But why?

SteveRB's picture

I find new LPS to be very expensive

Catcher10's picture

I find new LPs priced correctly when factoring in for today's $$ compared to $$ value in say 1982...It may be off by about $5, jeez that's the price of a cup of coffee today, nobody complains about that.

SteveRB's picture

It's costing me $45 for a decent Dagored re-issue here in Vancouver. That's up $15 in recent memory. Not every economy is doing as well as the US right now. I wouldn't be surprised if currency and shipping costs come into play across the globe.

Catcher10's picture

The last time I paid $45 for anything was the Peter Gabriel 45RPM reissues, although I bought the box set so it worked out to be cheaper. I was in Spain this past October and bought 6 new sealed albums, paid €20-€25, postage added about €3 each.....It was a good buy.

When buying online I only buy when the coupons come out, helps offset the postage...70% of my buying is supporting my local record stores.

Rudy's picture

My one local store wouldn't help with returns on defective new vinyl, so it only reinforced what I already do: buy online. Amazon is often more expensive but they take back product, no questions asked. Seeing that QRP can't press an on-center record to save Chad's life, I now have two more awaiting replacement that came from Salina KS. (The last two Rush records...Power Windows is so off-center that it's clearly audible, and Hold Your Fire only less so, but BOTH are off-center.) Amazon won't give me a hassle. Stores around here have the attitude of, "Eh, it's vinyl. What do you expect?" Needless to say, they won't get my new vinyl business until the attitude improves.

bfwiat's picture

So, I have a vinyl collection in the 1000's spanning from 50's to Latest New release, I still buy a lot of new music that is originally recorded all digital (some of it is electronic music).

.... 90% of the time the vinyl sounds better (to all my friends and my ears anyway)..
...the CD is ALWAYS LOUDER and YELLS at you..
.. the CD reverb tales are mushy and smeared and bass is kind of bloated yet thin and un-dynamic and slow..
... stereo separation is smeared and as things get busy, things get worse.
I digitally capture my own 24/96 vinyl rips to compare to CD... the vinyl rip kills the CD every time.
So I believe the problem is not inherently because it is in the digital domain, the problem is the volume maximised masters for CD/MP3 digital distribution.

As an amateur recording/mastering engineer my understanding is the CD master is finalized to sound LOUD (volume maximized/limited)
... BUT if they cut that finalized/limited master to vinyl the needle would literally jump out the groove.
......Sooooo.. the digital file for vinyl masters are (thankfully) missing the final volume maximization (Limiter) stage of their digital for CD counterparts.... this is why even vinyl cut from digital sounds better than the CD... they are cut from slightly different stages within the digital master.

The other thing I am sure appeals to many people about vinyl is of course the EXPERIENCE of having large artwork, lyrics sheets, gatefold covers etc... the EXPERIENCE of choosing an entire album to listen to and not just a shuffle of a playlist on a touch screen ... the pride of owning something you can physically touch, show, read, share.

Fundamentally, VINYL IS AN EXPERIENCE :)

Ken Micallef's picture

the recent reissue of Bill Evans' Live at the Village Vanguard, which was cut from digital files, and honestly tell me that it doesn't sound excellent. If the recording was good to begin with often the transfer from digital to analog will be good, in my experience.

Rudy's picture

Which reissue is that? I was looking for a good pressing of this one and Waltz For Debby but came across a few recent pressings on labels I've never heard of. I am hoping one of the good audiophile labels does another run of these two titles. I just don't trust those "no name" labels out there. I have a feeling many of those out there are imported from countries where copyright has lapsed. (This is also happening with CDs, the poor cover art being a dead giveaway.) Sadly I see the market flooding with a lot of imported crap lately.

timorous's picture

Here's a new twist on vinyl presses. Rather than trying to revive old presses that can be problematic to maintain, and are very hard to come by these days anyway, a new startup is developing a vinyl press that is intended to be quite automated, so that the heating and cooling and such are very much more consistent than the usual manual presses of old.

Here's a Globe and Mail article you shuold check out:


Interesting times we're livin' in...