The Vinyl Renaissance of Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey

Did you know that one out of every 15 vinyl albums sold in the United States in 2023 was by Taylor Swift? She was also the top selling vinyl artist in the U.S., making up 7% of the total vinyl sales of the year with nearly 3.5 million copies sold. For the third year in a row, the majority of her music catalog* topped the vinyl charts and I think this is such an interesting look at the direction the music industry is headed in for the coming years. While vinyl never really went away, it has definitely made a big resurgence in the past five years or so, seemingly ushering in a new generation of collectors.

So why now? Of course, these numbers also have a lot to do with the immense rise in popularity Taylor has experienced since the pandemic. Although she has always been a massive, high-selling artist for nearly two decades, the hold she currently has on the culture right now is unprecedented. There are a lot of reasons for that, but specifically after the release of her groundbreaking Folklore and Evermore albums, her fame seemed to skyrocket even higher than ever before. The start of her Eras Tour, along with the consistent releasing of her Taylor's Version re-recordings also has a lot to do with why a portion of her back catalog takes up half of the top ten for 2023 too. 

Although Taylor Swift dominates the vinyl industry by the sheer amount of units she is able to sell, that level of success is also positively impacting every area of the music industry as well. Even just comparing the sales numbers to the artists below Taylor on these lists is rising year after year too. Vinyl* has been steadily rising in popularity again and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. For the first time in 2022, vinyl sales surpassed CD sales for the first time since 1987. Even seeing that most of the chart toppers are contemporary artists is a testament to this new wave of music fans starting their own collections. I love to see that the love for vinyl is spreading to a new audience. Some of these stats surely have a lot to do with music fans embracing the nostalgia and aesthetics of having a vinyl collection, but even deeper, I also think it represents a sign of the times in the world we live in. 

I have always loved to have the physical copy of an album that I enjoy and have been collecting music for as long as I can remember. My dad also has a massive record collection, so I definitely inherited my love for music through him. Even more so in the years that followed the rise of streaming services, I think it is so important to not only support the artist directly if you're a fan of their work, but also to appreciate the ability to own a tangible piece of the music you enjoy. In an increasingly digital age, it is great to still be able to own something. With services like Spotify or Apple Music, you are essentially just renting the access to the music you listen to, you don't really own any of it. While I am an avid user of Spotify and am streaming music all day every day, it is important to keep in mind that just as quick as they give it to you, just as quickly it can be taken away. Most recently in early 2022, Joni Mitchell removed her entire music catalog off of Spotify in protest of the platform supporting Joe Rogan in the midst of spreading harmful Covid misinformation. Other artists like Neil Young and Graham Nash did the same. Even Taylor Swift herself famously removed her entire catalog of music off of Spotify from November 2014 through June 2017 due to disagreements with the platform's royalty rates. On a similar level, in February 2024, Universal Music Group removed 57 of the biggest artists in the world from TikTok's platform due to a licensing dispute. Although that is somewhat a different situation with TikTok, it still does prove that major labels can remove their music from a massive platform essentially at any time. 

Moreover, I also have always loved the tactile analog experience of listening to music on vinyl. Picking out a record from my collection and listening to it from beginning to end has always been such an enjoyable way to experience an album. Often the music sounds better too when you can hear certain production and vocal elements that kind of get lost in the digital version of the album. As a graphic designer, I have also always loved seeing the artist's vision for the album translated from the music's audio to the physical manifestation of it. I love seeing the cover art blown up, the designs on the inner sleeve, center label, and gatefold, as well as if there is a special colored pressing that compliments the album. My love for album artwork is one of the reasons I wanted to study graphic design in the first place. 

An artist like Taylor and her team are obviously masters of marketing in all areas, but in this case they have such a grasp on the collectability aspect of her music. That is one of the biggest reasons why she has been able to maintain consistently high physical sales, with most of her albums having debuted with over a million sold in the first week for the majority of her career. That is unheard of when it comes to music industry today, where streaming numbers often takes precedent in an artist's marketing. One of the biggest reasons she is able to do this is because she will often release multiple variants of the same album in every format possible, with different album covers, exclusive songs, special pressings, etc. She has also built such a loyal fanbase, myself included, that will buy basically anything she puts out. Taylor is far from the only artist to do this, but she is clearly the best at it if she's able to sell 10x the number of albums than most of her peers. I don't really have any problem with this in general, as it gives you more options to decide which version you like best to buy yourself. I think her team's album designs and attention to detail is a big factor in why the variants sell so well for her too. The only thing that really gets me with this tactic is the fake exclusivity of the variants, often advertising them as flash sales that will only be sold for 24 hours and they'll never be anywhere ever again - just for them to show up in literally every store ever a month later. But again, she is far from the only artist that does this. 

After Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey was the second highest selling vinyl artist for 2023, selling 646,000 copies in the United States alone. It was no surprise to see her latest release, Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd among the best sellers, but every time they release the list of bestsellers for the year, I am always blown away by the continued relevance that her debut album Born To Die holds over twelve years later. So much of the modern vinyl industry we know today is shaped by the success of that album, which over the span of a few years became one of the highest selling of all time. It is one of my favorite albums ever and a modern classic that is an essential for any record collection. It was one of the earliest vinyl records I got for my own collection too, so I absolutely understand the way this music is elevated by that listening experience. It's almost as if her music is made to be listened to on vinyl. The lush orchestral production, paired with her stunning vocals create such an atmospheric listening experience. It is unmatched. Born To Die changed music in so many ways, and the re-popularization of vinyl is just one of the many examples of that.

These stats are such a testament to the timelessness of that record and the relevance it continues to hold in the culture for the past 12+ years. Also to go back even further, an album like Fleetwood Mac's Rumours* has been continuously on this list for decades and again is also such a testament to how evergreen that album is. The cross-generational love for Rumours is so evident in the way that it has been able to connect with audiences worldwide over the past several decades. I am looking forward to seeing Olivia Rodrigo continue to expand her music catalog in the coming years and continue to top these charts too, it's great to see someone so young really breakthrough in the way that she has over the past few years. I loved seeing the crowd that Olivia and Taylor brought to Record Store Day in 2023 by being a part of that event, selling thousands of copies of their exclusive records at independent record stores all over the world. They are among the most notable to really spread the love for vinyl to a new, often younger, audience.

TOP 10 BEST-SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2023 IN U.S.

1. Taylor Swift, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) (1.014 million)

2. Taylor Swift, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) (510,000)

3. Taylor Swift, Midnights (492,000)

4. Travis Scott, Utopia (373,000)

5. Taylor Swift, Folklore (308,000)

6. Olivia Rodrigo, GUTS (267,000)

7. Taylor Swift, Lover (256,000)

8. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (215,000)

9. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (206,000)

10. Lana Del Rey, Born To Die (192,000)

Source: Luminate, for the tracking period Dec. 30, 2022, through Dec. 28, 2023.


TOP 10 BEST-SELLING ARTISTS ON VINYL OF 2023 IN U.S.

1. Taylor Swift (3.484M)

2. Lana Del Rey (646K)

3. Tyler, The Creator (552K)

4. Travis Scott (474K)

5. Olivia Rodrigo (408K)

6. Kendrick Lamar (382K)

7. Metallica (378K)

8. The Beatles (373K)

9. Fleetwood Mac (357K)

10. Mac Miller (354K)

*contains affiliate links throughout


When I first saw this list and I realized that I own nine out of ten of these albums, I thought it would be interesting to do a deep dive into why these artists are as popular as they are on vinyl. I love seeing artists like Taylor and Lana keep the love for physical media alive to those who want it. In fact, Taylor Swift's 1989 and Lana Del Rey's Born To Die were among the first in my own record collection around 2015 (my very first record was 5 Seconds of Summer's debut album!) They always get it, which is really clear in the quality of their releases. I also love to see when artists personally seem really invested in the physical output of their music. Taylor and Lana are obviously the biggest examples as they put out new music the most frequently and always incorporate interesting design elements into each pressing. Other artists that I think really excel at the art of the vinyl release are Billie Eilish, The 1975, Bleachers, Twenty One Pilots, St Vincent, Lorde, and Phoebe Bridgers. Those are just artists that come to mind first that I own several of in my own collection, but I know there are many many more that I'm missing. 

Last year, I started sharing some of my favorite records in my own collection and the stories behind them, which I hope to continue to incorporate even more of that into my content this year and beyond. I have always believed that it is so important to keep the art of physical media alive and celebrate the artists that feel the same. Be sure to support your local record stores and your favorite artists directly if you can!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of any of the mentioned artists on vinyl*, I would really appreciate if you did so through my affiliate links* throughout this post & in both of the top 10 lists, which I may earn a commission from. ♡ I also wrote dedicated reviews for several of the albums and artists featured on these lists, which are linked below if you are interested in reading more about any of them!  

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

-Melissa ♡


All photos are my own!

*affiliate links are featured throughout this post. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. -- Melissa Kacar is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Sources: Billboard, Luminate, The Independent, BBC


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