More proof that Taylor Swift is a financial force to be reckoned with: in a report from Billboard, Swift's dominance in U.S. vinyl sales — at 3.5 million units — accounted for 7% of all vinyl sold in 2023.
This marks Swift's third straight year as vinyl's top-selling artist, with her release 1989 (Taylor's Version) leading the way with just over a million vinyl purchases, the most for a musician in a single calendar year. In addition, she had five of the Top 10 vinyl releases for 2023.
Unlike most other media, vinyl can be sold in multiple iterations, including limited-edition retail branding such as Target editions, color, 'spatter' and even Coke bottle-like green. Consumers are also willing to wait for delivery of a physical unit, which can be weeks after a digital download is available. All this gives Swift (who had 15 physical variations) a more pronounced vinyl presence, especially in her core demographic of suburban, female Millennials who have deep pockets when it comes to purchase power.
In a year that also saw Swift as the top-streaming artist, it must also be noted that her Eras Tour grossed $1.04 billion (yes, that's a 'b') in ticket sales, the first concert tour to ever hit that mark, according to live music trade publication Pollstar. And the aftershock of that was Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour documentary which in a canny move by Swift was released in collaboration with movie theater chain AMC Theaters (and then as in-demand streaming availability) and raked in $261.6 million worldwide and was the tenth-highest-grossing film of 2023 in the U.S.
While Swift has gotten the lion's share of press, there are several artists who also made a dent in vinyl sales, albeit on a smaller scale, according to Billboard. Lana Del Ray was second behind Taylor with 646,000 copies sold. The remainder are Tyler, the Creator (552,000), Travis Scott (474,000), Olivia Rodrigo (408,000), Kendrick Lamar (382,000), Metallica (378,000), the Beatles (373,000), Fleetwood Mac (357,000) and Mac Miller (354,000).
Vinyl as a format has increased in sales year over year since its near demise as a sound format in the early 1980s when the compact disc (CD) took over in sales, mainly due to their portability and ability to hold more data. However, a curious trend that made industry news is the return of the cassette, which was the top contributor for distribution from the early '80s to the early 1990s. 2023 saw the re-emergence of the cassette, which sold a total of 436,400 units, mostly targeting superfans through purchases on artist's webstores and as collectibles.