September 23, 2020

U.S. Vinyl Album Sales Hit Biggest Week in 2020 After First Record Store Day Drop

Plus: Industry album sales up 26% for the week, physical album sales at indie stores see largest week in over a year & Billie Eilish’s “Live at Third Man Records” leads Record Store Day sales parade.

Thanks to Record Store Day 2020’s first drop on Aug. 29, U.S. vinyl album sales surged to a new weekly high in 2020, as 802,000 copies were sold in the week ending Sept. 3, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That’s a 63% increase compared to the previous week’s sales.

That 802,000 haul is also the largest week for vinyl album sales since the week ending Dec. 26, 2019, when 1.243 million copies were sold.

Further, the 802,000 sum is the biggest week for vinyl albums outside of the Christmas shopping season since the week ending April 18, 2019, when 848,000 were sold. That week included Record Store Day 2019 festivities.

Due to complications caused by COVID-19, Record Store Day 2020 – which was slated to take place April 18 – was split into three separate drops: Aug. 29, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24. In turn, the Record Store Day-focused releases and exclusive titles that were all due to hit independent and small chain record stores on April 18 were spread across the three days, including the two upcoming dates. Many titles are released specifically for the annual music store holiday, including unique color vinyl variants, hard-to-find catalog pieces and niche reissues.

The biggest-selling album at indie and small chain record stores in the week ending Sept. 3 – as reflected on the weekly Tastemakers albums chart (dated Sept. 12) – was Billie Eilish’s Record Store Day release Live at Third Man Records, with 13,000 copies sold. The 10-track acoustic album was recorded on Nov. 6, 2019 and was released exclusively on blue opaque vinyl. The set also debuts at No. 55 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Eight of the top 10 albums sold at indie and small-chain retailers (see list, below) were either released for Record Store Day or had a new format of variants issued for the holiday. Only Taylor Swift’s Folklore (No. 3 for the week) and Metallica’s S&M2 (No. 4) were not Record Store Day-focused, though the latter had a color variant exclusive to indie stores for its release on Aug. 28.

Here are some fast facts on Record Store Day 2020’s First Drop and its sales impact, along with the top 10 selling albums of the week at indie and small-chain stores.

All data is for the week ending Sept. 3 in the U.S.

Top 10 Selling Albums at Indie and Small-Chain Stores – as reflected on the Tastemakers albums chart (dated Sept. 12): 

1. Billie Eilish, Live at Third Man Records (13,000 sold via indie and small-chain stores)
2. David Bowie, ChangesNowBowie (10,000)
3. Taylor Swift, Folklore (9,000)
4. Metallica, S&M2 (9,000)
5. David Bowie, I’m Only Dancing (The Soul Tour ’74) (9,000)
6. Gorillaz, D-Sides (9,000)
7. Gorillaz, G-Sides (9,000)
8. Tyler, The Creator, Cherry Bomb (7,000)
9. The Cure, Bloodflowers (7,000)
10. The Who, Odds & Sods (7,000)

Total album sales across all formats (physical – including CD, vinyl, cassette, etc. and digital download): 2.212 million – up 26.1% compared to previous week.

Physical album sales (CD, vinyl, cassette, etc.): 1.561 million – up 33.3% compared to previous week.

CD album sales: 751,000 – up 11.7% compared to previous week. That’s the best week for CD album sales since the week ending Aug. 13 (767,000).

Vinyl album sales: 802,000 – up 63% compared to previous week. It’s the largest week for vinyl album sales since the week ending Dec. 26, 2019 (1.243 million). It’s also the biggest week for vinyl album sales outside of Christmas season since the week ending April 18, 2019 (848,000), which contained Record Store Day 2019 impact. Record Store Day in 2019 was April 13.

Independent store physical album sales: 718,000 – up 93% compared to previous week. Biggest week for indie store album sales since the week ending April 18, 2019 (848,000), reflecting Record Store Day 2019 impact.

Independent store CD album sales: 191,000 – up 24% compared to previous week. Best week for indie store CD album sales since the week ending March 12 (239,000).

Independent store vinyl album sales: 525,000 – up 143% compared to previous week. Largest week for indie store vinyl album sales since week ending April 18, 2019 (673,000), reflecting Recording Store Day 2019 impact.

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