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Vinyl record sales soar during pandemic, but streaming reigns supreme

April 17, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

You won’t see many of those clunky old wooden console stereo cabinets nowadays, but that does not mean that vinyl is dead. In fact, “other formats,” which includes vinyl records, was the fastest growing format in terms of music sales from 2019 to 2021.

Music sales did not skip a beat during the pandemic

While the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic may have curtailed concert going and live acts, Canadians still yearned to listen to and buy music to enjoy in the comfort and safety of their own home. In fact, total sales of recordings in the record production and distribution industry grew by over one-fifth (+20.3%) from 2019 to $548.8 million in 2021.

Almost three-quarters (74.2%) of total music sales over this period came from streaming, with sales for the format rising 28.6% from 2019 to $407.0 million in 2021.

Streaming sales have more than doubled (+124.9%) since we first started tracking them in 2017.

Vinyl record sales more than double from 2019 to 2021

Before we delve into the vinyl data, a brief liner note is required. When we redesigned our Sound Recording Survey in 2005, vinyl accounted for a small fraction of total music sales and appeared headed towards the eight-track tape bin of history. It was therefore lumped into the “other formats” category in our survey, along with other smaller selling formats such as DVD music discs.

But lo and behold, “other format” sales—the majority of which are vinyl records—have risen significantly since then. By 2021, “other format” became the second largest selling format, behind streaming. In fact, “other format” sales rose at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2021, more than doubling to $67.8 million and were over three times higher compared with eight years earlier.

Compact discs falling out of favour with Canadians

Musical compact discs (CDs) entered the market in the early 1980s, and by 2015, they accounted for just over half (50.8%) of total music sales. Nevertheless, CD sales have fallen for each survey cycle since peaking in 2000 at $805.5 million. By 2021, CD sales were 73.5% lower compared with six years earlier, falling to $40.0 million.

The downlow on downloads is dim

Downloaded music was the second highest selling format in the early 2010s, with sales reaching a record-high $159.4 million in 2013, accounting for 45.3% of total music sales. Downloading a single song has always been more popular than downloading a full album, but both methods of downloading have fallen in popularity for four consecutive survey cycles (eight years).

Single download sales declined by just over one-third (-34.0%) from 2019 to $23.7 million in 2021 and were 73.7% lower compared with 2013. Album download sales fell by almost one-third (-31.8%) from 2019 to $10.3 million in 2021 and were 85.1% lower compared with 2013.

Looking for more musical data?

Every two years, we ask Canadian sound recording and music publishers about the state of their businesses, including sales by format.

You can learn more about the music industry in Canada through our Daily release “Sound recording and music publishing, 2021” or by checking out our new “Arts and Culture Data Viewer.”

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (