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Vinyl Sales Are Up But Record Labels Think It Is A Fad


Vinyl Rule (Not)


Every where I go in my neighborhood, I see vinyl stores flourishing and selling used or new vinyl, it has really become a huge market in the Hollywood-Los-Feliz-Silverlake-Echo Park area. Amoeba Music may have been one of the first doing this at a large scale, and it still dominates the business, but I don’t count how many vinyl-selling stores exist here. I am old enough to remember about buying vinyl records but I abandoned the format a long time ago, when the CD appeared and I strongly resist at buying a turntable and going back to this nostalgic era. Because it is nothing else than nostalgia, I can’t find a good reason to buy vinyl again, and no I don’t ‘hear’ the big difference, especially when vinyl are old and scratchy. And many people of my generation actually agree with this sentiment.

‘The revival we see today is a choice, largely based on the sentimental feelings that we tend to attach to music,’ writes advisor to the European Commission on ICT Matthew Finnie, in Wired. ‘Yes, I miss the artwork, the feel and smell, but do I miss the general faff? Not really. Even with a vinyl revival, we have moved light years away in terms of the volume of recordings available digitally today. There are very few who would want to go back to how it used to be. The choice of vinyl is from the world of irrationality not the rational.’

According to Rolling Stone, there was a 52% jump in vinyl sales last year, which is certainly not negligible, but will it last? Pressing plants can’t keep up with demand, and it seems the stores have never enough vinyl copies of Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’, Sam Smith’s ‘In the Lonely Hour’ or Jack White’s ‘Lazaretto’. The fact that White sold 86,000 copies of his new album says a lot about the public interested by vinyl, as White’s fans have to share the same obsession with everything-old-fashion with their idol. However this feeling is not shared by everyone, managers and record labels see vinyl as a fad, they are cashing in on vinyl sales right now, but they are basically saying they are not expecting this to last forever.

‘It’s a great marketing opportunity. While we do expect growth to continue, it’d be hard to project exactly what that’s going to be,’ says Candace Berry, general manager of Universal Music Distribution. ‘I know a lot of people in the business who’ve gotten back into vinyl the last couple years. But I’m not sure they’re playing their vinyl every single day like they’re listening on their device.’

‘We welcome it. It’s a sexy, cool product. It represents an investment in music that’s an emotional one,’ says Tom Corson, president of Sony-owned RCA Records. ‘It is a small percentage of our business. It’s not going to make or break our year. We devote the right amount of resources to it, but it’s not something where we have a department for it.’

They all have the same answer, vinyl is great, but we don’t expect much of it in the future, and it’s not as if vinyl was about to take over the music market again… Small independent labels see vinyl as a good opportunity although they are well aware of the limits, as Saddle Creek’s Robb Nansel explained to Rolling Stone: ‘It’s always going to be a niche. It’s great, obviously, that people are buying records. Not to be negative about it, but I feel like it’s going to peak, if it hasn’t already. From a label perspective, it’s expensive. You’ve got to ship it. There are environmental concerns. But we love vinyl. It’s our preferred format’

To sum this up, vinyl are a niche, a very sentimental one but also an expensive one, and probably a niche destined to fade away in the future. And what about all these nostalgic people out there, promoting this fake hope that vinyl is gonna kill the MP3 industry? It’s a complete joke, I don’t see little kids giving up their numerous audio devices any time soon.

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