Vinyl Re-Enters the Mainstream
After a 28-year break, Sony Music Entertainment announced that it would restart pressing vinyl records, due to a surge in demand in recent years. The interest in vinyl has risen so rapidly that the sole vinyl pressing factory in Japan, Toyo Kasei, could not keep up with the volume of requests for records.
Boutique record stores and pressers exist all over the world, notably rising in popularity in the U.S. and the U.K. and Japan over the last decade, but this marks one of the first instances of a major player in the industry returning back to the timeless medium many assumed was dead. Record sales may never reach the astronomical numbers of the 1960’s and 1970’s, but the industry is projected to reach $1 billion in revenue for the year.
Where is the Demand Coming From?
Is it just nostalgia? Maybe. But then again, nostalgic vinyl fans have always gone and purchased an old record here and there. Perhaps the interesting cultural shift toward analog and vintage technology in recent years may be the cause of the boom in vinyl sales, alongside regular vinyl hunters. Film cameras, vintage instruments and amplifiers, and print books have all risen in popularity in the last few years despite that “better” versions exist.
Logically, this kind of trend doesn’t exactly make sense, especially on paper. Why would anyone ditch newer, more advanced technology for the old stuff? It’s strange to think that film cameras and turntables are cool to today’s high schoolers, when their parents’ generation was mostly getting rid of the old “junk” in the mid 1990’s in favor of newer electronics. But then again, enjoyment doesn’t need to make sense. If you love the feel of the mechanical shutter on a Nikon F3, or placing the needle on a turntable, it doesn’t really matter if there are more advanced products out there.
Personal enjoyment is likely the biggest reason for the popularity of vinyl—it’s just more fun. Sure, you could buy a studio album in FLAC online and it would be the same kind of audio quality as vinyl, but it’s just not the same as going down to the record store and getting the real thing. There’s something great about holding a record in your hands, checking out the artwork, and actually taking it home with you. For many, the experience of purchasing and owning a vinyl record is exponentially more engaging than downloading an album from Amazon Music or streaming one on Spotify.
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The Future of Vinyl
Today, more and more artists are releasing new albums on vinyl in conjunction with their digital releases. It’s nice to see artists embracing the shift, and their audience appreciating some extra craftsmanship in a pressed record. Although digital media has continued growing steadily, if vinyl continues its current trend, it will break out of being dismissed as a fad, and maybe we’ll be seeing some new corner record stores pop up over the next few years.
For audiophiles and hi-fi enthusiasts, the resurgence of vinyl is a welcome return. There are more and more selections of new music available on vinyl, and a larger library of accessible, high quality records is always good news.
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