Vinyl sales have seen a remarkable resurgence in recent years, both in the US and overseas: 2022 saw the format record achieve its 15th consecutive year of growth and sales numbers are now at the highest level they've been since 1990.
All of this would suggest that consumers are listening to vinyl more, too. However, figures published by music data analysts Luminate tell us otherwise. In the recently released report Top Entertainment Trends for 2023, Luminate found that only 50% of consumers who purchased vinyl in the past 12 months actually own a turntable with which to play their records.
These findings were based on data drawn from the company's Music 360 survey, which surveyed a group of 3,900 US-based respondents.
The burning question, then, is this: why are increasing numbers of fans buying vinyl records if they're not actually planning to listen to them at home? One explanation might be that vinyl provides fans with a physical token of their allegiance to a particular band or artist, scratching an itch that the ephemeral and transitory experience of digital streaming cannot reach by itself.
There's no doubt that streaming offers consumers a more convenient method of listening to music, but it's clearly failing to provide some with an entirely satisfactory experience. Perhaps these listeners are using vinyl as a way to bring a new dimension to the experience of music streaming, making the music they love feel more tangible in a busy musical landscape dominated by ever-changing playlists and avalanches of new releases arriving each day.
The reward that vinyl brings to music listeners can be enjoyed without actually dropping the needle on a record: it's the act of purchasing, collecting and displaying the vinyl that makes the difference, and for many fans, this coexists with the convenience of digital streaming, giving them the best of both worlds.
Essentially, vinyl has become just another form of merchandise: an object for fans to collect and treasure even while listening through their smartphones, and a means of supporting the artist that goes beyond the miniscule royalties dispensed by streaming services.
The number of fans buying vinyl without owning a turntable has seemingly increased in recent years. In 2016, we reported on an ICM survey that revealed 7% of respondents who reported purchasing vinyl didn't own a turntable, while 41% owned a turntable but claimed not to use it.
If you're one of these fans, but you're thinking of actually giving your records a spin for the first time, hit up our guide to the best DJ turntables.