Music Industry

So What’s the Real Reason Vinyl Took Off Again? Could It Be…

…Record Store Day? That’s Billboard’s theory.

When independent record stores — within the Alliance of Music Stores coalition — were presented with the idea of Record Store Day, some wondered why stores would market to the smallest group of customers. “Mainly because Eric Levin at Criminal said something is afoot. More customers are asking for it,” says Kurtz.

Something was indeed happening with vinyl. After shrinking 30 percent in 2005 and remaining flat in 2006, vinyl sales grew 15 percent in 2007, according to Nielsen Music. Much bigger gains would soon come.

The first Record Store Day, in 2008, had about 10 releases, says Kurtz. A modest start, but Kurtz had “never seen so much excitement.” With the help of Record Store Day, vinyl sales grew 90 percent that year with the largest single-year unit gain until 2013. The second installment had more than 100 releases.

Labels had a renewed confidence in vinyl. All of a sudden, says Kurtz, record labels could press 3,000 to 5,000 copies of a release on vinyl and have confidence it would sell. Sales and marketing support returned. Press releases and social media started promoting the born-again format.

Record Store Day has gone on to become a major event in music retail. It’s spawned offshoots in five European countries, Canada and Mexico, and a sister event on Black Friday. Since the breakout year in 2008, vinyl albums sales increased 223 percent to 6.06 million units last year. And rather than slow down, sales are actually gaining momentum. In unit terms, vinyl sales grew 1.5 million units last year. With sales on track to surpass 8 million units, this year’s growth will surpass 2 million units.

Read the whole article here.

If you’re new to the whole vinyl thing, has this introduction to the format.

To tell you about the AMAZING turn around vinyl is making. According to USA Today, vinyl sales were up 39% last year, and are up another 20% over last year, to this point in 2012. That’s right, those dusty, warped, crusty records sitting in your basement are flying off the shelves to collectors like myself who are looking to get that tangible piece of music history.

So this take us back to the “You actually buy records? Why?” question. Well, I can only speak for myself so I’ll tell you why I buy them:

1)      I want something real, something to hold on to, something dynamic that I can look at while I listen. Let’s be real folks, and MP3 is about a dull experience as one can have listening to music. While it sounds great, it’s as one dimensional as it gets.

2)      It sounds better than you probably remember. I won’t get into all of the physics of it but in music recording there are two different formats: analog and digital. Vinyl is an analog format and what you get with an analog format, is a rich, wet, full sound that MP3 compression CAN NOT deliver. Why? MP3’s as you probably know are a compressed file. In order to compress the file, they take only a sample of the sound wave you are listening to and those waves that are high in the spectrum or low in the spectrum are lopped off. When you are listening to a record, you’re listening to 100% of the sound wave.

3)      In many cases (at least for the classic stuff), the music was written by the band for vinyl… not for MP3. Let me give you an analogy. Have you ever seen Transformers at the movie theatre? At the theater, you are watching the movie on film. (an analog format) So, the picture while a little grainy, made those transformers are real as they could get. Then the movie came out on Bluray (a digital format) and you watched it at home on your 51” plasma tv and you thought to yourself… man, those transformers look so fake? They looked fake because the picture was so good in fact, that you could tell the difference between the CGI computer animated graphics, and the real objects behind them. Music you see, is much the same way.

Read on here.




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.

Alan Cross has 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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