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When it comes to music, vinyl is up, polycarbonate is down, but 'neither' is still winning

By: Rhoda Miel

January 22, 2014

Despite what hipsters and music snobs may want you to believe, vinyl records are not the way most Americans listen to their tunes.

(Insert your own needle scratch sound effect here.)

In fact while sales of vinyl records are climbing — up 32 percent in 2013 alone and 250 percent since 2002 — those 6 million albums make up only a tiny portion of the U.S. music business, just 2 percent of all sales last year.

Neilsen SoundScan and statistics compiled by Statista Inc. note that “good old fashioned” compact discs remain at the top of the charts for U.S. music sales, with 165 million albums sold, representing 57.2 percent of the market, meaning that polycarbonate still has bragging rights when it comes to music.

Digital downloads made up another 40.6 percent of all music sold during the year with 118 million albums.

Music sales were down overall, however, with sales dropping 8.4 percent as consumers used online music streaming services.