White Vinyl edition of Lana Del Rey's Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd album.

Numbers, Numbers & a Few More Numbers


According to Luminate, entertainment data accumulator and analyzer, there were one trillion streams globally in three months this year. January to March. A trillion. A one followed by 12 zeros.

Super Fly Fan

Luminate definition of “super fan”:

“a music listener aged 13+ who engages with an artist and their content in multiple ways, from streaming to social media to purchasing physical music or merch items to attending live shows. More specifically, the super fans who were identified in the studies referenced in this report were participants that self-reported engaging with their favorite artists in 5+ ways.”

Seems that there is a lot of them in the U.S.: 15% of the general population 13 years old and above. Roughly 50 million.

How You Can Tell

A field guide to a probable super fan: “people who purchase CDs, cassettes, or vinyl, are more than 2x as likely (+128%) to be music super fans.”

Why Does This Matter?

“They also spend more than 80% more money on music each month than the average music listener.”

Physical Graffiti

Super fans like things that are more manifest than, say, NFTs (what has happened with them, by the way?).

Luminate describes them as “collectable-loving.”

As such, the vinyl boomlet, which, according to stats from the RIAA, has grown for 16 years running.

The RIAA found that in 2022 there were sales of $1.7-billion of physical musical media in the U.S., of which $1.2-billion was for vinyl. Which doesn’t leave a whole lot for CDs and the rest.

(“The rest?” you wonder. The RIAA includes music videos purchases, which accounted for $19.9 million, and “Other Physical”—CD singles, cassettes, vinyl singles, DVD audio, and SACD–that garnered $14 million.)

Cut Out the Middle

Direct-to-Consumer—as in from the artist to the purchaser—sales over all were up more than 20%. Looking at vinyl alone, the sales were up 25%.

Approximately 1 in 9 vinyl albums sold go through the D2C channel. (Not bad, but let’s face it: the other 8 aren’t.)

Which seems to indicate that people, super fans in particular, are going straight to the source. And want something tangible for their money.

The Importance of Now

There is a lot of attention—financial attention—being paid to catalogs.

Presumably there’s gold in them thar hits of old.

But not necessarily for super fans.

Of their D2C purchases, 52.6% of the vinyl is current, not catalog.

And for cassettes it is 75.6% and CDs 77.8%.

(Of course, one could make the argument that the D2C sales are more likely to be new than catalog because catalog is readily available from other sources, like Amazon.)

Younger Is Better

Luminate found that Millennials (born 1981-1996) in the U.S. spend 22% more on music than the average listener. For Gen Z (1997-2012), it is 13% more.

More is better, too.

Gen Z leads in purchases of cassettes and vinyl.

Oh, and Z

Somewhere Douglas Coupland is wondering. . . .

And here’s the answer, Gen X (1965-1980) leads in CD purchases. And someone who is going to get something physical is part of the Accelerated Culture.

OK, Boomer

Well, as Boomers (1946-1964) are increasingly entering the period of being on a fixed income, despite the fact that they were once all about vinyl (because that was pretty much the only media available), they are fairly thrifty when it comes to the price of a vinyl LP.

Seems the ideal price point for them is $19.60.

Other cohorts are willing to spend as much as $10 more on average.

Still, If Not Them, Who?

Luminate and partner in compilation Billboard ran the numbers for music streams and sales for the first half of 2023.

And in the vinyl album sales, there are some things that are expected and some that aren’t and some that are, well, simply strange.

It is absolutely expected that the number-one seller in album sales is Taylor Swift, with Midnights, which, with 251,000 units, is nearly twice that of number-two, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd by Lana DelRey, with 132,000 units. It is DelRey that’s a bit surprising, in that she has another album in the top 10, Born to Die at 10. Swift also has two charting, with folklore at number three.

Here are some odd appearances. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac is in fifth place. That album was initially released in 1977.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is at 8. It dropped in 1982.

And then in ninth place: The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, which has been available for 50 years.

As French writer Alphonse Karr once put it back in the mid-19th century–when you heard music live and in real time, from a music box, or not at all–Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

He was probably not a proto-super fan.

Leave a Reply