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Vinyl: Don’t Call It a Comeback

It’s been here for years. Audiophiles, record shop owners, and collectors alike have single-handedly kept vinyl alive the last few decades. And their passion seems to have paid off, as the medium once again begins to enter the mainstream.

The last few years have seen a steady increase in vinyl album sales as well as releases, but a recent Nielsen report shows that sales over the past three months have jumped 53% from the same period last year. Numbers like this seem to only further demonstrate its continued resurgence.

pc-versus-vinyl-records-DJ

Perhaps most surprising to many is that music fans under the age of 35 make up a significant portion of those buying LPs in increasing numbers. One report by Billboard reveals that this demographic is behind some 72% of all vinyl sales.

Besides privately owned record shops, stores like Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods are even slinging vinyl at some of their locations. Several businesses that do vinyl record pressing have even had difficulties in keeping up with demand. Rainbo Records, of Canoga Park, California, is now able to crank out 28 records a minute on their presses, having hired more staff and extended operation hours to fill orders. It’s still not enough though—some customers wait months to receive their order.

Although U.S. vinyl album sales are still far from being “big business”—accounting for just 3.6% of total reported album sales in 2014, or approximately 9.2 million units sold—it is still considerably better than the almost nonexistent sales figures of 10 years ago.

So what are people buying? Yes, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Bob Marley, et al., are all not-so-surprisingly there in the top sellers. But so too are many of today’s indie (type) artists, such as Arctic Monkeys, Jack White, and The Black Keys.

In addition, Tech in Asia reports that some startups are taking things a step further with LP demand. Tokyo Digital Music Syndicates Inc. has gotten in on the game by launching Qrates, a platform where artists can create custom vinyl pressings through crowdfunding. Users simply drag and drop music files to the A and B sides of a record, which can then be customized using several color options. Additionally, they can upload content to personalize labels and sleeve design. These records can then be made available for preorder, in limited edition if so desired.

In this hyper-convenient digital age it would seem that vinyl really could die off. Especially when you consider how many people have gotten used to the click-happy process of accessing free music online. But when it comes to experiencing not just music but reading or even creating art, you simply cannot replace the tactile experience of interaction with your records, books, or paints and brushes.

H/T: Digital Trends

  • big in japan

    funny timing on this post. i was at sm aura in bgc, manila, a few weeks back and saw several (not one, but several!) previously released but clearly newly pressed sonic youth albums on display (and for sale) in the front window of one of the music stores there. i had a hard time believing that a) there were enough people out there still playing vinyl, and b) there was enough of a market for sonic youth stuff in the philippines. it appears i was wrong on both accounts.

  • Grote

    Great pic! Appreciate the LL reference as well.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vimZj8HW0Kg

    • Peter Zhang

      Thanks! Yeah, I couldn’t resist using that shot.