[Today is the 11th annual Record Store Day. Contributor Chris Donaghue has some thoughts about it all. – AC]
As music mediums went from
But if you listen to David Byrne, he has pointed out that digital sales allow record companies to make MORE money per unit. They don’t need to design, manufacture, or distribute physical copies anymore. So, just like with CD’s, record companies get to make money per unit while pushing a crappier product. But vinyl fans are demanding a return to quality. Maybe it’ll spill over into the quality of popular music improving?
The inevitability argument of
When CD’s first appeared in the
Vinyl is Evolving
In Hull, where I live, a new, new & used vinyl shop opened, called Vinyl Scene, In 2018! (Great bilingual name). Aside from coffee & drinks, they only have vinyl. They have great space-age listening booths (Vinyl Age maybe?)
Vinyl is set to overtake CD sales in 2019, that’s up above 50% from 14 % in 2018. Who saw that coming? But more importantly, who will capitalize on it? And according to Alan Cross, host of The Ongoing History of New Music, it may have already happened. It’s hard to say because vinyl isn’t tracked the way digital sales are, like the vinyl sold at merch-tables at shows – the little collector’s shops every act sets up. The last year vinyl outsold CD’s? 1986.
Tower Records, HMV, Sam the Record Man, they’re all gone, but sales are up. The vinyl renaissance is a real opportunity for new & used independent shops. Now, if we could just have a musical renaissance to go with the sales renaissance. Maybe another Nevermind, or Are You Experienced?, or Sgt. Peppers? Another Stones/Beatles, or Nirvana/Pearl Jam rivalry could really shift some units. But bands and working with your friends have become passé. With anti-social media, it is so much easier to try and take a shortcut to stardom. But do you think any of today’s YouTube stars will be listened to in 20 years? Or still selling vinyl copies in 20 years?
Vinyl can never really go out of style again. It will always be the medium of the audiophile. It can only go out of style if
Even though good music has dwindled due to digital devaluing, there is also John Zorn & Godspeed You! Black Emperor, around today. And they are about as underground as any artists have ever been. Along with Banksy, who is supposedly in Massive Attack. That would make sense. Mezzanine is monstrously good. Although, all these counter-culture vultures are older than me. Where are the kids dissing the mouth of May? And jingling ‘Dump Trump?’ The predicted wave of protest songs against Trump hasn’t become the panic songs we need. At least Nixon & Thatcher caused good protest songs, (Ohio, I’ll Melt With You, etc. etc.). The minds of today got lulled by blinking lights and Netflix rights.
And the reason vinyl is resurging is not new music, almost all the top sellers are decades old, like Abbey Road, It’s not due to artists, or modern mp3 compatible record players, it’s due to fans who want to go back to quality instead of drinking the watered down Kool-Aid. Digital music is like drinking weak poison,- it won’t trip you out, or kill you, you’ll just feel like the blood is slowly draining out of all of humanity at once.
The Vinyl Renaissance is also partly due to falling CD sales, that’s why it will overtake CD’s, but the real reason for any increase in Vinyl sales is actually due to shops inspiring each other.
Record Store Day
In 2002, comic book/shops came up with Free Comic Book Day, since they had oversaturated their market and needed to bring ‘em back in. It’s the first Saturday of every May, where there are lots of free special edition comics. So record stores were inspired to come up with Record Store Day in 2008. It’s always a Saturday in April, pre-empting the comic Book/Shops by a month or so. Every year since the first Record Store Day in 2008, vinyl has seen double-digit sales growth. My favourite record store day release? Feistodon.
Feist & Mastodon split a double A-side in 2012. They do her song, A Commotion. It’s mind blowing. The video is even better. Feist lip-synching her own song while smashing guitars, (which I feel very conflicted about, but it’s OK if it’s her). Mastodon also get sampled on the Feist song, A Man is Not His Song. I also sang on that song with Choir! Choir! Choir! It’s my major label debut. Perhaps we could come up with a Book/Shop day? I suggest Oct 17th.