By Sylvia Nankivell
It just keeps going up and up. Vinyl used to be seen as “so last century”, a dead format being swept aside by streaming and downloads, following a sound kicking from the CD. However it turned out there was life in the old musical dog yet.
Those who thought the record went out in a blaze of glory in 1991, care of Simply Red’s ‘Stars’, were about to get a shock. 4.1 million albums were pressed and sold in the UK last year, and 2016 saw spending on vinyl beat digital for the first time, a move few thought would happen in the new frontier.
With greater access to free tunes via sites like YouTube, why are customers going back and putting their hands in their actual wallets for physical music…? Let’s take a look at the key factors behind this miraculous musical revival.
When legends of the scene go to that great concert in the sky, people want to celebrate them the way they’d want to be remembered: through their records. David Bowie’s death in 2016 was particularly significant, with all those great vinyl album covers and memories of putting his stuff on the turntable. This isn’t to ignore the interest of today’s listeners, who are forking out as much as their forefathers on classic artists.
It helps that his legacy is still burning as brightly as ever. ‘Blackstar’ was his final album, released two days before his death, giving the disc an unexpected power and poignancy. The musical ‘Lazarus’ was a project realized later that year and special releases can be found on vinyl at an eye-opening price.
Record Store Day
This year’s celebration has just gone by, but Record Store Day has cemented vinyl in the national consciousness for music lovers, and fuelled demand no end. 2007 was the year it all started, with the aim of uniting record stores up and down the country. Over a decade later it’s still going strong.
Aside from typical places for vinyl, such as the aforementioned record stores and one stop shops online, the big boys have waded into the conversation. HMV have had a growing record section for years and now supermarkets are stocking a limited supply of discs, hoping to cash in on something that’s clearly more than just a passing phase.
This renaissance can take some surprising forms. For example, this month Sainsbury’s are going to be selling a spoken word album in the form of a Doctor Who story starring Tom Baker. So not only is vinyl booming but it could branch away from music and embrace other kinds of recorded entertainment.
You can hold it in your hand
The tangible nature of vinyl is something that streaming simply can’t replicate. While music was supposed to have been reduced to data inside a mobile device a long time ago, the consumer is thinking outside that tiny box.
Not only is the feel of a record and a well-designed cover attracting buyers, but the sound is also prized. The analog recording process captures the audio experience more accurately and though some are put off by the crackle and hiss, others find it reassuring and organic.
People want to pay
The bottom line when it comes to demand for vinyl is that customers want to go out of their way to pay for it. Whether opting for a classic re-release of a defining album, or listening to their favourite new artist on an old and trusted format, the fact is people want to have records on their shelves. This could either be for pure pleasure or pure profit. Nevertheless, vinyl has endured and continues to endure.
The expectations that digital would become the dominant musical form have fallen away, though it’s the variety offered by things like streaming which has broadened the public’s taste for music, and had them reaching for something they can put a needle on.
Sylvia is the founder of the popular Vinyl Price Comparison Search, www.vinylrecordsearch.com. Why is it popular? Because it is a quick, clean and easy way of making sure that you don’t pay more than you need to on records! You can also use it to see if you are sitting on a gold mine with your vinyl collection.
Check out our catalogue of rare and collectable vinyl on 991.com, and if you have any items to sell, please call us on 01474 815099