In Rainbows album coverI just checked out the stats on music sales in 2008, and it may not be the end of the world for the music biz.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, music sales actually rose 10% in 2008, despite the fact that CD sales were down. Obviously, people have been continuing to go digital. Digital sales increased from 50 million in 2007 to 65 million in 2008. While that is an awesome slap in the face for the traditional minded labels, the real awesome stat was the increase in vinyl sales. Yup, you read that correctly. In fact, vinyl sales made an 89% jump from 2007 with 1.88 million sold. This was the best year for vinyl sales since Nielsen SoundScan began in 1991.

What’s even cooler is that two out of three people bought their vinyls at independent record shops, even though places like Best Buy are selling vinyls now.

Here were the top ten vinyl sellers:
1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
2. The Beatles – Abbey Road
3. Guns N’ RosesChinese Democracy
4. b-52’s – Funplex
5. Portished – Third
6. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane…
7. Pink FloydDark Side of the Moon
8. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
9. Metallica – Death Magnetic
10. Radiohead – O.K. Computer

So, why are people returning to good ol’ vinyl?

As a fan of vinyl, I can give you my input.

First of all, vinyl does sound better than CD’s or MP3’s. That’s a fact. Besides better quality, there’s also that noise when the needle drops down on the black circle. You know the sound, and it’s damn cool.

Secondly, the size of vinyl is much more appealing. Very simple, bigger is better.

Thirdly, the packaging. Instead of opening some plastic case or clicking a button on your computer, opening a sleeve and pulling out the slick piece of vinyl is a wonderful feeling. There’s a little bit of work to it, but in the end, it’s well worth the wait.

Finally, a vinyl is also a memento. There are some vinyls worth a ton of money, so they may not get played that often. However, if you have a re-release or bought a crappy used copy, there’s still a sense that you own a collector’s item. It may not be worth shit, but it’s defiantly a cool thing to have.

OK, they may sound geeky, but once you get into vinyl, you’re hooked.

While digital is the obvious way to go, releasing vinyls for your fans is huge plus. Just ask Pearl Jam and Radiohead fans, since both bands have released vinyl editions of their albums from the get go. And, even smaller acts like Bright Eyes and Wilco have done the same. Their fans have, and will continue to, buy the vinyls.

Besides pleasing your fans, I have a sneaking suspicion that CD’s will in fact become obsolete. Digital sales will continue to soar, but fans will still want something tangible to posse. They’ll want something to hold, feel, read, see and smell. That something will be vinyl.

Check out Pearl Jam’s homage to vinyl with this live performance of “Spin The Black Circle”.

Image via Wikipedia