We won’t have weekly music sales figures for Canada until tomorrow, but they’ll likely indicate that sales of new vinyl will continue to run about 5% lower than they were at this time last year. The decline, although small, does indicate the first contraction of the vinyl market since this resurrection began about nine years ago.
Naturally, this has some pundits claiming that the vinyl boom is over. I point to this article from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that says high prices and poor quality are driving people away from the format. Again.
I’ll grant that some labels and manufacturers are taking shortcuts by simply transferring a digital file to vinyl, something that inevitably results in a substandard record. Some are using poor quality vinyl or cutting corners on vinyl weight, the exact sort of practices that plagued vinyl records in the late 70s and early 80s. No wonder we couldn’t wait to dump our vinyl for compact discs. And because prices have risen ridiculously, people are no doubt pissed off at a lot of what’s available these days. No wonder the doomsayers are out.
I beg to differ for a number of reasons.
(1) The sale of new vinyl is only part of the equation. The sales figures don’t account for the millions of record that change hands on the used market. My experience has been that record shows have never been more crowded nor interest in sites like eBay and Discogs been greater.
(2) More modern record pressing plants are coming online all over the world, including Canada. These new plants are capable of manufacturing high-quality records. Even Sony is getting back into the pressing game after being out of it for 30 years.
(3) Turntable sales continue to increase.
(4) Record Store Day, a major driver of vinyl sales. was a bit of a disappointment this year. The consensus was that there were too few exciting releases.
Still, there are those who say that a nine-year run is a “fad.” Yes, the straight line upward vector has been disrupted this year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t recover.
Relax, people. Let’s not get all knee-jerk about this.