Why Sony Is Joining The Great Vinyl Revival
Vinyl is currently in the midst of a sweeping revival. From the bearded hipsters of Shoreditch to nostalgic middle-aged dads, both the young and the not-so-young are embracing music in its physical format once again.
Not so long ago, it was agreed that CD had killed off vinyl, and that digital downloads had left the old-fashioned black plastic record well and truly buried. But now, vinyl is back with a vengeance. No one could have ever predicted that in 2017, it would be outselling CDs and reaching heights in sales that have not been seen for over 25 years.
If you’ve yet to notice the sprinkling of independent record stores that have been popping up in local highstreets and city centre shopping districts, then just take a look at the supermarkets. Even the largest chains like Tesco and Sainsburys recently took the decision to stock a selection of classic LPs and more recent releases to keep up with the rising demand.
The resurrection of vinyl is being backed by big music labels too. Now, one of the Big Three global record companies, Sony Music, have announced that they will be manufacturing records again after a 28-year break. The company’s Japanese arm have already started building a new record-pressing plant, which will be open for business by March 2018.
The primary focus of the new vinyl pressing plant will be to produce reissues of classic bestsellers such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, as well as new titles like Ed Sheeran’s Divide, which became this year’s best-selling LP shortly after its release in March.
The surge in demand for vinyl has been a global phenomenon. Across the UK and Europe, events such as Record Store Day have attracted millions of new customers, and this has put a lot of pressure of the few remaining record pressing plants. In-house production was common practice in the 1970s and 1980s. Soon, it’s likely that Sony won’t be the only label wanting its own manufacturing plants.
This April, a whopping 547,000 albums were sold on vinyl during the week of World Store Record Day. It’s an event that brings over 200 independent record stores from around the UK together to celebrate their unique culture and hear live performances from their favourite artists.
But what is it exactly that has brought about the boom in vinyl? Broadly speaking, the increase in record sales can be attributed to two distinct groups of people.
Firstly, there’s the 45-54’s, who have been attached to the vinyl format for a long time. Consumers of this generation are more likely to be men. These guys usually motivated by a sense of nostalgia and they’re passionate about collecting classic records. Think of your crazy uncle, who wouldn’t be able to go a day without music, whether he’s listening to it on record or re-living a live performance on YouTube.
Then, there’s the younger audience, who are now discovering vinyl in a way that they weren’t before. This generation are more likely to stream their music online and then go out and invest in their favourite albums in the physical format. Digital music streaming has rocketed 500% since 2013 and this has encouraged an increase in music discovery. With the decline of CDs, vinyl has become a popular alternative for young people who want to own something tangible and real.
Another interesting trend that has been witnessed is how the deaths of certain world music giants have driven sales of their LPs. After Bowie’s untimely death in 2016, he became that year’s bestselling vinyl artist, with five albums posthumously featuring in the top 30. In a similar way, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black LP has become a memento that reminds fans of her life and work.
While vinyl still only accounts for 5% of the albums market, it represents a dramatic shift in the way that people are now consuming music. People are now more willing to pay for the music that they enjoy and spend a little extra, knowing that it’s an important source of income for record labels and musicians.