Is Vinyl Revival Still Alive?
By Lewis Catlow
Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud and Tidal, the list goes on for music listening platforms available to the world from their chosen devises at the touch of a finger. Surely that’s the only way to listen to music in 2016, right? The likes of Tidal and Apple Music having exclusive released from some of the worlds biggest artists such as ‘Yeezy’ himself, it seems the digital side of the industry are trying to control our way of listening.
With millions of albums available for free on Spotify, it’s hard to argue against it, especially with some of the features, such as the ‘Discover Weekly’ which gives the listener 30 songs weekly from artists that they may not of previously heard, based on their current most played artists. It’s almost effortless for the listener to widen their musical taste.
Digital music revenues have overtaken that of traditional musical formats for the first time ever. But people are still choosing vinyl year after year, as it’s been announced that record sales via vinyl are at a 28 year high, reaching sales of almost half a billion dollars in 2015. At first, when vinyl started selling again, people thought it was just a fad for the twenty-something’s who wanted something old-school to show off on Instagram.
But more and more people are leaning towards the old crackle, the hisses and pops, and all the flaws that add depth and warmth to the music on vinyl, none of which can be heard on a super-crisp digital recording. Maybe it’s because people feel nothing towards their MP3’s, or their Spotify playlists, but do towards a record collection. Is it because of this or is it that people want vinyl as a tangible item?
According to a poll by ICM, almost half the people who bought vinyl in the past month have yet to play their records. Are people buying records to hang them in a frame, to look more cultured? Maybe vinyl is the subject of being a status symbol, something to show off to the world. Surely music fans the world over would be more impressed with an artists entire music catalogue on vinyl than on iTunes downloads.
But who cares, because vinyl has broken into the mainstream, with Adele’s ’25’ being the highest selling vinyl of last year. What used to be niche and cult bands releasing/re-releasing classic records or live performances for Record Store Day, is joined now also by the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, who both have exclusive RSD releases, alongside the likes of The Grateful Dead, and the late David Bowie. It’s getting bigger and bigger every year, which can only be a good thing for the independent record stores up and down the country.
With Record Store day behind us until next year, I spoke to various music insiders and fans about what Record Store Day means to them, and about their opinions about whether vinyl is a sustainable way of experiencing music or whether or not its just a current hipster trend, plus many more questions about the current state of the music industry.