According to the NY Times, sales of vinyl in America during 2011 have risen a whopping 36% to 3.9million sales which translates as 1.1million sales. Here in the UK, there has been an equally large growth hitting 340,000 by year end (well up from 234,000). All things considered, the UK and USA aren’t in brilliant financial times with large numbers of people out of work and the charts being filled with largely disposable artists. On top of this, downloads are gripping tighter but with a 5% drop in physical sales. Looking at both sides of the Atlantic,Adele’s “21” comes pretty high. I didn’t even know it was released on vinyl. Now this is the part where I come up with some hypotheses on the matter.
Hypotheses after the jump.
The Physical Connection.
Whereas an MP3 is ones and zeros, the vinyl record is something you can touch and open up. Something you are involved with the playing of (flipping sides and dropping the needle). Within the sleeve there’s words and (usually) pictures of some sort. When I look at the double albums in my collection, they are huge lap covering pieces. One of them is just paintings of alien craft but in itself is a work of art. I was once told the humble 12” sleeve was overlooked by religious fundamentalists as the perfect item to roll a joint on. There’s something of a romanticism to the whole process of sitting down with a record and just listening, as mentioned in High Fidelity.
We are in an incredibly advanced age where nearly everything is available at your fingertips in seconds. Vinyl is of a simpler times when you could change a car engine yourself, had to wire your own plugs and computer bugs were, well bugs. That’s not to say vinyl is simple, the production process is fraught with potential problems. I am curious about the record buying demographics as I would bet good money that a large chunk are under 30. Speaking of which…..
When I go into record stores, the majority of people there are under 30. Rock and Roll is considered a young man’s game but record collecting isn’t ageist. Growing up, I was at the tail end of cassette’s days. Vinyl was something that my dad had boxes of in the attic and mum had a handful of crappy singles. But as time went on and started listening to the music I do now and reading the blogs I read, vinyl seemed to be something bands and labels are doing.
A trend I started to notice at the time is the inclusion of download codes/ cds. Not only does one have a physical copy to hold, but also a quick way to get the album on their computers and personal listening devices. Genius. Then there’s the advancement in capturing software from the days of Audacity which was a long winded process and a half.
Of course there’s probably something I’ve overlooked so feel free to use the comment section.