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Vinyl record pressing plants question sales numbers
An industry website estimates production at 73 million units last year, while Nielsen-Soundscan says 9.2 million vinyl records were sold last year

Kabir Bhatia
The 14-disc 'Beatles In Mono' was one of 2014's big sellers on vinyl.
Courtesy of KABIR BHATIA
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The music industry is reporting that vinyl record sales were up 52 percent last year, but some insiders say the numbers are being under-reported. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia has details.
Vinyl record pressing plants question sales numbers

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In 1991, Nielsen-Soundscan began compiling music sales electronically, a switch from the old system where record-store employees reported by phone or fax. At the time, the vinyl record was being trounced by CDs and cassettes.

Now it’s made a comeback, with 9.2 million units sold last year.

However, Soundscan relies on scanning barcodes, and that could be missing a large portion of vinyl sales according to Vince Slusarz, owner of Cleveland’s Gotta Groove record-pressing plant.

“Quite a bit of what we do does not have a bar code on it. And let's say [there's] 500 copies made and they're selling them on the road -- and even if it's a well-known band, and they're selling their records at a [merchandise] table -- I'm not certain if that's even turned in to Soundscan.”

Jay Millar of United Record Pressing in Nashville – the largest pressing plant in the country – says some recordings are slated for non-traditional outlets.

“To pull another dramatic example, we’ve actually manufactured 1,000 records for a guy who just wanted to shatter them as part of an art project. There's a lot of what we do that's just odd things that would figure into the manufacturing, but certainly wouldn't go into a Soundscan number.”

Last year, Gotta Groove alone pressed about 800,000 discs, while Billboard Magazine estimates United Pressing turned out about 9 million. Vinyl record sales saw their best year in 2014 since 1990. All told, the industry website AnalogPlanet puts U.S. pressing plant output at more than 73 million last year.

A chart of vinyl sales from 1973-2014 is available here.

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