The Fascination with Vinyl: Vinyl vs. CD vs. Streaming Services

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I recently saw a tweet talking about how 50% of Vinyl Buyers Don’t Have a Record Player. The study with a sample size of 3998 music listeners may not be very accurate but it does make a point. The point is that most vinyl buyers are buying vinyl records for vanity rather than utility.

What is Vinyl?

In the 1940s, vinyl records(a flat disc made of polyvinyl chloride) were introduced as an analog sound storage medium. Vinyl records come in a unique shape and size, with a diameter of 12 inches and a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch. You need a vinyl record player to play it.
The vinyl gained immense popularity in no time because of its sturdiness, longer playing time, and superior sound quality. Up until the 1980s Vinyl records enjoyed immense popularity among the listeners. A group of dedicated collectors and enthusiasts have kept the format alive even today.

What's a Compact Disk?

As technology grew further and spaces became narrower people wanted smaller and more portable solutions to Vinyl. Come 1980s compact disk was introduced. A standard CD (compact disc) is 120 mm (4.7 inches) in diameter and 1.2 mm (0.05 inches) in thickness, much smaller than a record, and could hold many more songs than a Vinyl record. CDs became more popular and Vinyl sales started to plummet.

What are streaming services?

Come the 2000s, everyone now has access to a mobile phone. Which has its own speakers and most of them have a media player inbuilt. In the starting people used to copy songs from their computers or download them from shady websites. It required effort and was insecure. In trying to address this concern multiple streaming services hit the market. You could just search for any song you can think of and play it right away without downloading. Streaming soon put out every other media storage device and technique out of the market. Now 84% of music industry revenue is generated through streaming services. Spotify, the biggest music streaming service of them all recently passed 500 million monthly active users.

Why are people still buying Vinyl and Compact Disks(CDs) then?

There are multiple reasons like nostalgia, sound quality, and vanity, let's explore them in detail.

  • Nostalgia: For some, it's the sentimental value of listening to vinyl records and CDs that keep them in demand.
  • Rarity: The element of rarity plays a role in the demand for vinyl records and CDs, as not many music albums are available in physical format.
  • Ownership: Some people prefer to possess their music physically rather than essentially renting it through a streaming app.
  • Sound Quality: Vinyl records and CDs provide better sound quality than streaming services that reduce the quality to make streaming faster.Unless you subscribe to a service that provides lossless music streaming your song will lose some amount of data contained in the original source file.
  • Aesthetic Value: Vinyl records and CDs are also used for vanity purposes, as they can look beautiful and aesthetic when combined with a record player, serving as a focal point in a room.


In conclusion, while the rise of digital music and streaming services posed a threat to the existence of physical music formats such as vinyl and CDs, these formats have managed to survive and even grow in recent years. Many music fans appreciate the tangible experience of owning physical copies of their favorite albums and the unique sound quality that these formats offer. Whether it's for nostalgia, rarity, or aesthetic purposes, there will always be a market for physical music formats.

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