In 2016 vinyl exploded into the mainstream (again)

By Oliver Smith 3 January 2017
Justin Bieber was one of the most-streamed artists of 2016.

Sales of plastic discs with inscribed grooves reached a 25-year high.

Not since Simply Red’s Stars graced the charts in 1991 have Brits bought as many vinyl records as they did last year.

A whopping 3.2 million records were sold in 2016, up 53% on sales in 2015.

The resurgence is linked to our hunger for the physical – in this case physical music collections – in our increasingly digital lives.

“Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the Nineties,” said Geoff Taylor CEO of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Indeed five of Bowie’s albums jumped into the vinyl charts following his death, with Mercury Prize-shortlisted Blackstar becoming 2016’s most popular vinyl.

Top 10 vinyl albums of 2016

  1. David Bowie / Blackstar
  2. Amy Winehouse / Back To Black
  3. Various Artists / Guardians Of The Galaxy
  4. Radiohead / A Moon Shaped Pool
  5. Fleetwood Mac / Rumours
  6. The Stone Roses / The Stone Roses
  7. Bob Marley And The Wailers /  Legend
  8. The Beatles / Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  9. Prince & The Revolution / Purple Rain
  10. Nirvana / Nevermind
HMV has been increasing its in-store vinyl selection, as have Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Streaming ahead

While vinyl’s resurgence is impressive, streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music continued to dominate our consumption of music in 2016.

Every household in Britain streamed the equivalent of 1,500 songs in 2016, adding up to a record-breaking total of 45 billion songs being streamed.

Amazingly these streaming music figures, collected by the BPI, don’t include music videos watched on YouTube – which, if included, would likely double these figures.

Sales of CDs, on the other hand, continued to collapse with just 47.3m CDs bought last year, a drop of 11.7% on 2015’s sales.

Top 10 songs streamed in 2016

  1. Drake ft. Wizkid & Kyla / One Dance
  2. Sia / Cheap Thrills
  3. Mike Posner / I Took A Pill In Ibiza
  4. Lukas Graham / 7 Years
  5. Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna / This Is What You Came For
  6. Rihanna ft. Drake / Work
  7. Zara Larsson / Lush Life
  8. Chainsmokers ft. Halsey / Closer
  9. Justin Bieber / Love Yourself
  10. Major Lazer/Justin Bieber/MO / Cold Water

So in 2017, will you be embracing the physical with some vinyl? Or living a streaming digital life?