The return of vinyl and the ever-entertaining dynamics of the music industry
There’s never a moment of boredom with the music industry. As we noticed in the post about #SaveASpeaker campaign by The Vamp®, technology in this sector advances at an incredible rate, often leaving a certain melancholy in its wake.
It must be this emotion fuelling the return of vinyl, an anachronistic phenomenon that exists somewhere between the growing hype for the product and the market’s problems responding to demand.
Data from the Music Report 2015, issued by Nielsen presents the tenth consecutive year of vinyl sales, meaning 12 million units and a 30% increase in sales, almost 9% of total album sales.
The people behind this phenomenon are the ones promoting it, especially independent record stores where 45% of sales come from. The Nielsen data also surprisingly reveals that the genre most sold on vinyl is rock with 68% of LP sales. We may be discussing ‘classic technology’ but the target is actually much wider than you would think.
An article by the New York Times gives us an interesting overview of the situation regarding the pressing plants that make our beloved vinyl. The market cannot keep up with demand and it is standard to wait up to 6 months for your LP to be made. It is this time frame that keeps orders away from many of the pressing plants, as well as listeners using the internet to consume music in ‘liquid’ form.
In order to understand the vinyl boom, we have to go beyond this problem and replace rationality with emotion as so often happens in the musical sphere.
The reasons often given by vinyl fans include the warm, embracing sound provided by the analogue grooves of the vinyl. And people also often mention the need to ‘touch’ music, especially if it is a good recording produced as a collector’s item.
In short, aesthetic and sentimental/melancholic value play a fundamental role. This seems all the more significant if we consider that approximately 54% of vinyl buyers are under-35 (source: MusicWatch). This young target group usually discovers new music online but then collects its favourite LPs on vinyl. It may be happening slowly, but the choice is increasing.
Many small companies scattered around the world have started the serious – and expensive – business of recovering and restoring pressing plants. Even the big guns are re-examining their strategy as well as the independent labels, which tend to be more faithful to this format.
At this rate, the music industry will be able to offer us our favourite artist’s latest album in every available format.
Each to their own format, whether it’s old or new technology!
Disc cutting lathe Neumann TELDEC-DMM (Image via Wikimedia)
Credit Cover image Women package the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, 1965 (Image via Sonicbids blog)