[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca – AC]
A couple of weeks back, someone sent me a picture of a Tragically Hip album on display in a record store. It appeared to be a standard vinyl issue of the band’s 2006 album, Music @ Work, priced at $71.99. It wasn’t a typo. To put that into perspective, a copy of the deluxe 2-CD edition of the band’s Fully Completely can be had for $13.99. And that’s more than 10 times the cost of a digital copy available on iTunes.
I soon started to get emails and texts from other shoppers outraged that prices for regular vinyl albums had broken the $50 mark. What’s going on? Several things, as it turns out.
First, the public’s demand for vinyl records keeps growing. In Canada, sales of new vinyl are up 44 per cent from this time last year. Revenue from vinyl in the U.S. has nearly doubled from 2020. Things are also crazy in the U.K. as customers clamour for old-timey records.
This has created a massive backlog of orders at vinyl pressing plants. Each new album comes in a vinyl version. Back catalogue items — think perennial best-sellers like Abbey Road from The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and Back to Black from Amy Winehouse — are on perpetual backorder. And with Christmas approaching, there are a lot of massive box sets in the pipeline. Add in upcoming boxes from Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and a dozen or so others, and you can see the problem. There’s a lot of material that needs to be pressed and shipped.