Apr 25, 2022 - News

Record Store Day sales spike amid soaring U.S. vinyl sales

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U.S. vinyl record revenues, 1973–2021
Data: RIAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Waterloo Records sales rebounded to pre-pandemic levels for Saturday's "Record Store Day," a global event filled with vinyl and CD releases.

Why it matters: Record Store Day usually marks the biggest sales day of the year for Waterloo and other stores, and after a two-year decline, owner John Kunz said 2022 Waterloo sales topped pre-pandemic 2019 figures.

The big picture: Kunz estimated 200 music fans were in line by the time the store opened at 7am, hoping to get their hands on exclusive releases from their favorite artists.

Some of that interest was driven by Taylor Swift's exclusive — and very limited — 7" release of "the lakes," which led Waterloo and other Austin record stores to create a drawing for customers to meet the surge in demand.

  • 700 Swift fans entered the Waterloo contest for Swift's record, Kunz told Axios.

Yes, but: Swift released just 10,000 records.

  • "There [are] 1,400 stores participating in Record Store Day, so if one does that math, the average store is only going to have seven," Kunz said.
  • Cozy record shop End of an Ear also asked Swift fans to enter separate drawings for their limited supply: "Orders far exceeded demand," the store tweeted.

Of course, it's not just Swift. Waterloo customers of all ages lined up to snag exclusive vinyls from their favorite artists.

  • Childish Gambino's "Kauai" was the top performer at Waterloo on Saturday, followed by Willie Nelson's two-record set from his performances at the Texas Opry House, which has never been out on vinyl before.

Zoom out: While it's still a streaming world, decades-old music formats are experiencing a recent boost in popularity, Axios' Tim Baysinger reports.

  • Sales of physical media — vinyl records and CDs — grew in 2021 for the first time in almost 20 years.
  • Vinyl revenue specifically grew by more than 50% last year.

What they're saying: "It's more than a trend," Kunz said of the increase in record sales. "There's just something that is human about it that is something to hold and read."

In the Live Music Capital of the World, Austinites won't have hard time finding an Austin store ready to help old-school music lovers add rare gems to their vinyl collections.

Local spots to add to your list:


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