Music Industry

Why Are People Going Back to Vinyl?

With the news that vinyl sales up another 33% in the US in 2013, there’s been a round of articles speculating on why more and more people are opting for this old analog technology.  Slate has even declared 2014 to be the hottest new audio technology of 2014.

A little further down in the article, the author offers a theory about why vinyl continues to make a comeback.

More broadly, the vinyl boom can be seen as yet another manifestation of the societal fetishization of all things “vintage” and analog, which is pretty clearly a response to digitization, corporitization, globalization, and probably some other izations I’m not thinking of right now. Within the music industry, vinyl’s renaissance is also tied to notions of “the album” as a cohesive artistic statement, usually by an actual band. Although 2013’s top vinyl record belonged to Daft Punk, three out of every four LPs sold were rock albumsBillboard observes. And about 65 percent were sold at independent music stores.Does this mean we can all go back to calling them record shops?

Vinyl as part of a broader backlash against all the technology in our lives?  Never thought about it, but…

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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5 thoughts on “Why Are People Going Back to Vinyl?

  • The observation that LPs sales increased due to CD sales migrating to streaming and cloud based delivery models is very insightful. Makes you wonder how much more of the overall market LPs will take in the future.

  • It’s just a nicer take home product than CD. Bigger album artwork, just a nicer collector item and far more interesting collection to curate

  • It also offers a tactile difference in the listening experience. There is no difference between a CD and a .WAV file. But there is a huge difference between vinyl and the digital listening experience. That is the main reason I still buy vinyl.

  • It’s not an insightful observation at all. The digital market has matured, and the boom that accompanied a new format has eased.a significant portion of sales were people. Using a new version of something they’d already owned (Don’t Stop Beilieving, anyone?)

    There was a similar impact when CDs were new though the impact was arguably bigge as it was not possible for most to do their own conversion from an earlier format.

    Simple put, it’s the same as when you bought 2112 on record in the 70s, then n 8-Track for yor Plymouth Charger, then on Cassette for the Pinto, then a new record because the old one wore out then on CD.

    Vinyl sales are marginal. They represent such a small portoj of overall music sales that any increase is notable. For a small portion of people the commitment will last–for most it’s attend and it will level as well.

    • Disagree with Skot that vinyl sales are completely marginal. Perhaps in the new listening model of streaming music and, of course downloads….but in a pure physical purchasing world, vinyl will slowly gain on CD’s as CD sales plummet. Both CD’s and vinyl are entering an era where they are mainly for the audiophiles and hobbyists. The ratio of vinyl to cd can’t help but go up.
      That being said, there will always be a market for the high quality boxsets that organize and expand on important artists and important releases.


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