Despite the growth of MP3 and streaming sites, vinyl records have had a surprising spike in popularity in recent years, with sales of LPs at a 25-year high.
More than 3.2 million records were sold in 2016 alone, which is a whopping 53% increase on the year before, with spending on vinyl actually beating that of digital downloads. This is all pretty remarkable when you consider that only 200,000 vinyls were sold in total as recently as 2007!
So why exactly have music lovers, both old and young, embraced this seemingly obsolete format?
A New Wave of Vinyl Fans
A lot of people believe they have a pretty good idea of the average vinyl fan: middle-aged. Male. Probably buying Pink Floyd or Fleetwood Mac.
But, while the older market has definitely had a large role to play in the resurgence of vinyl, younger fans have also played their part.
Of course, the majority of music these days is streamed, with over 100 million people estimated to be signed up to a streaming service.
However, just because the younger generation is streaming doesn’t mean that they don’t still crave tangible, physical forms of music.
In the past, we were mainly limited to discovering new music based on what we heard on the radio, but with streaming we have millions of tracks at our fingertips, meaning that our tastes are more varied than ever.
What this means is that people are discovering music through streaming but, if they like it, they’re going out and buying it on vinyl.
While the young crowd are definitely helping push the growth of vinyl, much of its resurgence can be attributed to our perennial love of nostalgia.
A quick look at the top 40 best selling vinyls of the year so far shows a lot of familiar names showing up near the top, such as The Beatles, Radiohead, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley & the Wailers, suggesting that nostalgia still plays a big part in vinyl sales.
What’s also interesting is that the second and third best sellers were by artists who have passed away in recent years (Amy Winehouse and David Bowie), which points to another reason for the vinyl boom: buying mementoes to remember your favourite artists by.
If nothing else, the novelty of taking a vinyl record and lowering the needle just provides that familiar, personal feeling that you just can’t get through your phone.
Another reason people still love vinyl is the high-quality sound that it delivers. Admittedly this is one for the audiophiles, but vinyl is often said to deliver a much richer, warmer and clearer sound than that of digital music.
It’s way too techy to get into in any detail here, but if you want to know more about the comparison of sound quality between vinyl and digital, check out this post from How Stuff Works.
Some may say it’s just another form of music snobbery, but if it’s selling records, artists won’t care!
As vinyl’s popularity has grown, it has increasingly been embraced by the mainstream again.
For example, Record Store Day has grown and grown in popularity to become a worldwide phenomenon, with a host of bands and artists releasing special vinyl for the occasion and playing special one-off gigs in their local independent stores.
More and more shops have started to stock vinyl too, with vinyl taking pride of place in your local HMV and even making their way into your weekly grocery shop, being stocked in Tesco!
There’s also now a vinyl top 40, suggesting that the format is as relevant as ever.
What Does It Mean?
So, what does the popularity of vinyl mean for the industry? It’s good news for those on big labels, who can afford to press large numbers of vinyl records, but smaller artists are starting to see some success too.
The fact that people are willing to pay for music again can only be good news for artists and could prove to be a valuable source of revenue as others, such as digital downloads, slowly die off.
So, if you’re looking for vinyl pressing for your band or act, check out what we can offer here and request a quote!