The rise of vinyl records
It’s true that holding a physical album or a vinyl makes music lovers happier than spending 99 cents on a digital track.
This is the reason why the music industry has seen a notable rise in the sale of vinyl’s in the past 5 years. Data released by Nielsen Soundscan show that 9.2 million vinyl’s have been sold in the US in the last year whereas more than a million have been sold in the UK, which is a milestone achieved in Britain since 1996 when the Spice Girls released their smash-hit single “Wannabe”.
But what are the main reasons this is happening? Is it just because collectors love to own a piece of memorabilia of their favourite artists?
There’s actually more behind it. Experts say that vinyl records deliver a richer and high quality sound which can be “stressed” and “ruined” on a digital track. Tracks mastered on a vinyl record are pressed onto it on a quality of cymbals 640k instead of a normal mp3 track which is usually 320k.
Another fact that studies revealed is that the sound of an LP introduces engagement and accuracy throughout the recording of every instrument of a song onto it. For example, reproducing bass on vinyl is a serious engineering challenge, there’s a lot of adding additional vibrations and distortions to make the sound “warmer” than a normal album according to Pitchfork.com – this not only increases the quality of the sound but connects emotionally the artist with the listener.
HMV, the British retailer has seen a rise on vinyl records sale for 69% in 2016 which is +78% on 2015.
“People are buying vinyl records because you can easily frame it and hang it on the wall of your bedroom” employee Mark commented.
The chain has started organising events where fans can meet their favourite artists and get their new album signed for free. That boosts up their sale on physical music.
Bands have already started to release HMV signing session tours nationwide.
Banquet Records, an independent record shop in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey started to organise live shows followed by singing sessions in 2008.
“I’ve seen my favourite bands here at Banquet Records, that’s where I get my exclusive LPs. I have many and they’re all signed, I have All Time Low, Blink 182, Moose Blood, Tonight Alive to name a few. This is how I started my vinyl records collection and I have over 120 now. I am so proud of it”
The store his home to alternative and upcoming new bands in the music industry. It’s one of the most known music stores in the UK and sells limited and rare editions of EPs as well as LPs.
It’s true, part of the demand comes from the old fashion consumerism to possess things that defines us. Something you can satisfy when buying digital music.
Nik Pollinger, a digital anthropologist who advises companies on the factors that motivate consumer behavior, told TIME in an email, “What we display in public is used to send social signals about our identities. Making our taste in music visible has historically played an important role in such signalling for many people.” Owning a vinyl collection, of course, “restores this ability.”
That doesn’t mean that digital sales are decreasing. That is still the feature and record labels are already dealing with it, experimenting new strategies of sales and marketing.
In 2015 global digital music grossed 6.7b dollars which is an enormous figure and a plus 10.2% compared to 2014. Streaming remains a significant factor within digital music with platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Premium subscriptions have seen a massive rise in the past couple of years with more than 78 million people now paying for music, a big fight against piracy.
A vinyl is usually more expensive than a digital download. Most releases range between $11 and $30 although special edition can reach up to more than $70 (which you can buy here).
The most sold biggest selling vinyl albums are Blackstar by David Bowie, Back to Black by Amy Winehouse and Nevermind by Nirvana in the UK. They’ve been in the top 20 since 2012.
Although sales within vinyl albums are increasing, they’re only making 6% of overall music sales worldwide in the last year. It’s nice to see a wide increase and we hope to understand the many reasons why people are inspired to own a vinyl instead of an album.