In a world where we stream our favourite TV shows and films, a world where we read from screens and take pictures on the built in smart phone camera, sometimes it’s nice to take a step back. More than ever, entertainment is incredibly accessible, and it’s a little overwhelming to say the least.
Vinyl was dead. At least it was thought to be in 2006 when vinyl sales hit an all time low. Fast forward to December 2016, when vinyl record sales alone, not physical music overall, surpassed digital for the first time in music history. Now vinyl is well and truly back on the scene. Something big changed in those 10 years, but what exactly was it?
The dawn of Record Store Day, having celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 2017, coincides perfectly with vinyl’s bounce back. RSD is an annual celebration of independent record stores and vinyl music with tons of records only available to buy for this one day. Expect massive queues every year, I had to wait for 4 hours last time and that’s a short wait, especially for a store in London.
One day a year isn’t enough to change the course of record history, so what else could it be?
Quite possibly it’s the physicality. For me personally, that’s a big part of it. When we were all downloading music in the late 00’s we lost that completely, especially with my generation who hit their early teens just as mp3 came into its own. And now we’re still missing physicality with streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.
Gone were the days of tracing the lyrics with your finger, gone were the days of reading whom the artist wishes to thank and who supported them whilst they created one of the most important things of their life. The words and photographs in those booklets bring such a human connection to the music that we love. That was lost when we went digital. You could listen to a track every single day, have the lyrics wrong and not know the face behind the music. It was lost even more when we switched to streaming. There’s no possession, no ownership anymore. You ‘own’ your favourite song as much as someone with no interest in it at all.
Vinyl players are more affordable than ever, and the supermarket Sainsbury’s is the UK’s biggest seller of vinyl – isn’t it a bit bizarre that you can grab a pint of milk and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours at the same time? Bizarre, but wonderful, the barriers to entry and to access are being broken down. Maybe some elitism may fall away too. Vinyl’s resurgence may well just be a trend in the way of Polaroid cameras making a comeback, however those who really enjoy it will be here for the long haul. Again, it goes back to physicality, people want their photographs printed instantly so they can hold them and cherish the memories.
Is this resurgence forever? Only time will tell. Right now it’s on the rise and likely will be for a bit longer, but no matter what there are new vinyl fans out there that weren’t there 10 years ago, including myself.
If you have the ability to, should you be producing your music on vinyl? Yes, completely. However vinyl records are notoriously expensive to create, however it appears that technology is finally catching up with our demand to live in the past. With any luck, over the next few months or years, the cost of making vinyl records should decrease massively. This is an opportunity not to miss out on.
Releasing records creates an element of collectability that simply cannot be had from digital downloads, or CDs really. Picture disks, singles and special EPs are many people’s treasured items and most important piece of band/artist memorabilia. Consumers are willing to pay a bit of a premium for records, especially those with an element of exclusivity, as the final product is simply so nice to own. Records possess an air of luxury and professionalism that CDs have lost over the years, not to discredit the CD, but there is just that *something* about vinyl records.
Maybe it can just be something to aspire too. Imagine the day you’re holding your own music pressed on vinyl. It’s gonna be 2020, not 1970.