There’s no doubt about it, the vinyl revival is in full swing. Call it an analogue anomaly, call it a digital despondency, call it whatever you want, vinyl has proudly scratched its way back into the public conscious and is not only here to stay, but is making waves too.
Back in 2004 there was a slight increase in the sale of vinyl in comparison to previous years. It was nothing really, a drop in an otherwise insignificant ocean. Yet, this trend continued year on year, and over the last couple of years people started to take notice. Then, 2012 marked a watershed year for vinyl. Sales surged by 15% to 389,000 according to the Official Charts Company – you can find the full story at www.nme.com/news/various-artists/69832 – and that has increased by a further 78% in the first quarter of 2013 alone.
The vinyl revival, then, is well and truly among us. So where can you go to get a slice of the action? Well, since the resurgence you can find the majority of vinyl releases on the high street, in fact, that’s part of the charm. Music lovers seeking a more tangible product, disenfranchised by the ubiquity of the download, have been flocking back to high street to reclaim the material object. 20th April 2013 saw the sixth annual Record Store Day, a whole day dedicated to physical sale of special vinyl and CD releases. You can find out more about the event at www.recordstoreday.co.uk, and see for yourself the incredible work that’s gone into revitalising the physical sales market, particularly through vinyl.
The XX and Mumford and Sons currently lead the way in first quarter sales for vinyl in 2013. These days, it’s become increasingly common for contemporary artists to release their albums on vinyl as well as CD and digital download; however, that still leaves a large proportion of music inaccessible to the vinyl community. What’s more, the largest demographic of vinyl buyers is the 18-24 range, as explained by the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/22208446. Resultantly, a cycle is created where new music is released on vinyl to be enjoyed by those artists’ target audience. There is a burgeoning air of exclusivity to this resurrection, perpetuated by the reciprocal relationship between artist and their key demographic; new music in an old format for young people.
However, vinyl not stocked by the high street is still obtainable. Specialist stockists like Hard To Find Records not only supply new releases, but also sell a variety of vinyl from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. The online aspect might lack the romance of the shop-bought purchase, but nevertheless allows the discerning vinyl enthusiast to pick up some lost classics. Thankfully, Hard To Find Records are relatively easy to find, just visit www.htfr.com to see what hidden gems you can pick up.
The survival of these older records has more than contributed to the rising success of the newer releases. Though CD manufacture has continued to experience falling costs in recent years, the rise of digital sales has sorely affected this market, whilst the inherent romance and nostalgia of vinyl has seen its sales increase, with manufacturing prices remaining largely unaffected. Companies like Key Production have sought to capitalise on the duel success of digital and vinyl sales by offering a vinyl manufacturing service that can be packaged with an MP3 download option. The entire vinyl manufacturing process is outlined at www.keyproduction.co.uk/services/vinyl-manufacture, and will prove to be a worthwhile investment for any band or artist looking to carve out a niche in a resurgent and blossoming market.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen how long the vinyl revival will last, but recent sales suggest that it is still on the incline. The prominence of digital sales stood at 85% of physical sales for 2012, and will arguably exceed physical sales for the first time by the end of 2013. Yet, despite the falling sales of CDs, vinyl continues to experience a year on year increase, and in the end the best recipe for success will be for artists to synergise their releases across all platforms.