An Interesting observation to glean from Luminate Data's 2022 Year End Report was the different mediums artists are using to achieve their sales. While some artists rely solely on streaming and digital album sales; cassettes, CDs and vinyl still make up a (significant) part of the sales mix for others. Here's a breakdown of how:
The report begins its exploration by revealing that "the year saw new albums from Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Bad Bunny earn No.1 positions on the Billboard 200 upon their debuts... but each artist achieved the No.1 spot through a different mix of consumption means. While Bad Bunny did it with 100% digital offerings for his album, only 55% of the first-week consumption numbers for Beyoncé’s Renaissance were digital and only 38% the first-week consumption numbers for Taylor Swift’s Midnights were digital." In our forecast of possible music industry trends in 2023, we remarked how “the continued revival of vinyl offers an avenue for artists to diversify their streams of income”. With 945,000 total vinyl copies sold, Taylor Swift's ‘Midnights’ was the highest-selling vinyl album of 2022.
While it makes sense for Beyoncé to sell CDs and vinyls because her rise to prominence happened before digital platforms were the main mode of music consumption (the pre-streaming era), this data poses some compelling questions. Today’s vinyl resurgence being partly driven by an artist of Swift's profile slightly complicates Tatiana Cirisano's excellent ‘Three Types of Superstars In Music’ theory - which groups artists into ‘pre-streaming’, ‘streaming’ and ‘ultra-fragmented’ eras.
Several factors could be causing this trend; ranging fromit fans wanting to own their faves' music, have a greater physical connection to the art they enjoy or technical aspects of the listening experience, like vinyl sounding crisper. Whatever the cause may be, it's clear with the re-emergence of vinyl and re-launch of the Walkman that consumer-driven entertainment hardware is always going to be in the mix for artists when exploring possible streams of income.