Half of Vinyl Buyers in the US Don't Have a Record Player:

One might think that the rise in vinyl sales would call for a corresponding rise in turntables. As it turns out, however, about half of vinyl LP buyers don't own a record player, according to a recent study.

Luminate's "Top Entertainment Trends for 2023" report found that of the 3,900 US-based respondents surveyed, "50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months own a record player, compared to 15% among music listeners overall." So -- feel free to double-check our math here -- that would indicate that 50% of vinyl buyers over the past year have no way to play those records at home.

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42 Responses:

  1. John Wilson says:

    I’m wondering what percentage of that was as presents for the other half

  2. Jeff Atwood says:

    wait what? how is this possible? wouldn't it be one turntable, many vinyl albums?

  3. Bill Hooker says:

    So who are the other half, buying but not playing? Dealers, collectors, unbearable hipsters?

  4. this 50% number has been pretty stable over the past decade, right? I first read that figure in 2016. The next part -- from memory -- of that 50% who own record players, only half actually use them. The rest buy records to listen once or twice (get their dopamine hit) then just go back to streaming from their phone.

    I’m slightly ashamed to admit I fall into that category.

    Which means only 25% of record buyers actually listen to them regularly.

    • funny that the article mentions Metallica. I remember in 2021 when everyone was in a panic because we needed 6+ months to get vinyl pressed. That was the same year I got a song on the their “Blacklist” compilation, which showed up as *seven* LPs!

      Seriously, how much of the vinyl bottleneck was caused just by that release alone?

    • Quinten says:

      isn't that a fallacy? It's possible that among turntable owners, only those who actively use them buy records. In fact I'd assume buying records means you're more likely to actually play them.

      • Sorry, I think I explained the logic in my previous post a little fuzzy. Here’s the break down, from my understanding:

        * 50% of record buyers don’t even own a turntable
        * 25% of record buyers own a turntable but prefer streaming
        * 25% of record buyers own a turn table and actually use it to listen regularly

        It makes perfect sense to assume folks buying records will listen to them, but these statistics tell us 75% actually do not.

  5. Gifts, no doubt. For the person they know who bought a turntable.

  6. acb says:

    Vinyl is essentially the new commemorative plates

  7. ha! I have a turntable _and_ a DNA slipmat. God I’m old…

  8. nooj says:

    I bought vinyl for a few years even though I've never owned a turntable, because most of them were the same price as the CD and had a code for a free digital download.  I'm just going to rip the CD onto my computer and never look at the CD again, so why not get a free collectible?

    • CSL3 says:

      That's been my strategy for the pasty 20-some-odd years now, especially since the majority of online music stores (like Amazon, which I haven't used in over a decade) are MP3-exclusive. Whereas with a  💿 I can rip all the tracks as FLACs that I back-up as as ZIP file, plus the actual disc for further back-up (which has been a lifesaver when a phone craps out - thank Christ I put all my music on a microSD).

      • jwz says:

        Whenever possible, I buy my music through Bandcamp, because as far as I can tell, that's the system where the highest percentage goes to the artist. (So much so that it always surprises me when a band does not have a Bandcamp option. I wonder if other distribution channels explicitly forbid it.) I believe Bandcamp also has a FLAC download option, if that's your thing.

        • CSL3 says:

          It does, and I use that exclusively when I buy through them. Though Bandcamp is mainly where I go for indie acts. 7Digital has mainstream stuff as FLAC files, but their categorisation is shit and whether or not there's a FLAC option is inconsistent from album-to-album.

          In any case, I'm happy picking up a band's CD after a show (which is something I haven't done in a while, 'cause plague) or picking up new and used CDs at Amoeba.

          • Jon says:

            Does Bandcamp actually losslessly compress the FLAC downloads? My format of choice is currently Apple Lossless, and while Bandcamp offers that as an option all they do is put an mp4 wrapper around the uncompressed audio, so I wind up having to convert the files after downloading to get the ALAC compression applied. I'm curious if they do a better job with FLAC.

            • CSL3 says:

              As near as I can tell, Bandcamp's all lossless.

              In their how-to articles instructing musicians on how to upload, they explicitly describe the download formats as lossless, with listed formats as "FLAC, ALAC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and AIFF".

              • Jon says:

                It's not all lossless - the AAC, Ogg Vorbis and MP3 download options are clearly using lossy compression just based on the file size if nothing else. But maybe the artists don't have to upload those formats & Bandcamp is creating those files themselves.

                But apparently I was wrong about ALAC. I redownloaded a recent Bandcamp purchase in ALAC and compared it to the files in my library and they were basically the same - the conversion I did after downloading hadn't made the files any smaller. For some reason when I import the original Bandcamp download into Apple Music it tells me the bit rate on all the songs is 2304kbps (24 bits @ 48K) which makes it look like the files aren't compressed. When I tell Apple Music to reconvert the files to ALAC the bit rate changes to something in the 1600-1700 kbps range. Apparently all it's really doing is changing the metadata. I can't tell if the problem is with the metadata in the Bandcamp download or if it's Apple Music doing something weird.

  9. I happened to go into a couple of large chain record shops at Christmas. The entire floor of both was given over to anime collectibles, comics and plushies. This is what record shops are for now. If people were buying albums for the sake of playing them then they'd be buying CDs instead. It's basically just an attempt to get the artists more than the $0.0000001 that their labels have negotiated them in Spotify royalties.

  10. MattyJ says:

    I buy a lot of books I never intend on reading. Not sure why but this sort of tracks.

  11. Simon says:

    Half of Vinyl Buyers in the US Don't Have a Record Player

    Even if true, this is a very misleading statistic. It says “50% of vinyl buyers don’t own a record player” which does not mean that 50% of all records are bought by someone without a record player.

  12. thielges says:

    This explains why half the people on seem like cranky Beanie Baby collectors.  They don't care so much about the music but are keen on amassing rare objects.

  13. Marten says:

    Or maybe people with record players also ask for records as gifts from friends without record players? Like I don't know how to knit but I've given people knitting patterns. I couldn't quickly see if this was accounted for somehow.

  14. jwz says:

    The last time I bought a record, it was because I wanted the book that came with it. Both the book and the record are very pretty. I have never played the record.

    • Rodger says:

      This has always been the thing we lost with LP->CD. I used to have a pretty big collection of picture disks which were gorgeous (but then “paying rent and eating” won an argument with them). LPs were sometimes objects d’art, so it’s unsurprising that people would collect them.

      And collecting stuff you don’t use has always been a thing. Most of my camera $$$ go into lenses and bodies I use constantly, but I still have some film bodies that I inherited, a Foveon sensor camera I picked up because it’s a neat technology, and I’m not even the kind of person who buys Leica’s to put in a display case. People collect violins that they can’t play and lend them to orchestras. A friend of a friend restores pinball machines and then lends them out to anyone who will declutter his house by taking them.

  15. mattl says:

    I don’t. I even have DNA lounge slip mats I bought in 2020 to go with the record player I’ll eventually buy. I don’t have any records I don’t also have in some kind of digital format and at least five of my records are copies of Blue Monday.

  16. Dr. Matt Lee says:

    Got the slip mats, just need to work out where record desk(s) might go and then fish the rest the vinyl out of storage.

  17. tonza says:

    it's for the cover art. Something CD owners have been denied, ever since the release of the Compact Disc.

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