Question 4: Is the so-called ‘vinyl revival’ having any impact in the bigger picture?
Vinyl hits 25 year high! Fantastic growth as vinyl revival keeps spinning! Industry saved!
Such headlines have not exactly been infrequent over the last couple of years and not without some credence- vinyl did grow by 53% year on year in 2016, with 3.2m LPs shifted.
This represents the ninth consecutive year that demand for vinyl has increased, undoubtedly boosted by Record Store Day, now a global event (though in the opinions of some record store owners, the apple has fallen far from the tree and the event has been hijacked by major labels for catalogue reissues).
I’m not about to shoot this down in flames- I love my Stranger Things aquamarine with white and black splatter LP. Besides, with fantastic labels such as Death Waltz Recordings and Invada crafting some very special releases, it is unsurprising that vinyl sales have picked up.
But let’s get a little perspective- vinyl is having a bit of an extended moment but is and always will be niche. According to the BPI, 3.2m LPs were sold out of a total of 123m total album sales (including their rather dodgy ‘streaming equivalent album’ mechanism but that’s a topic for another day). In other words, vinyl represents less than 3% of the overall market, despite now being available in Tesco.
As a wider issue, isn’t all recorded music effectively a postcard for the tour now and effectively a loss leader?
Also, who is buying this stuff? A cursory glance at the vinyl charts over at the Official Charts Company reveals a top ten featuring a Bowie compilation, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley and two Pink Floyd albums. Though the appearance of You Me at Six and the Guardian of the Galaxy soundtrack may suggest otherwise, it doesn’t exactly scream ‘Youth market’ at you now, does it?
In 2017, lets lay off the myopia and be pleased but a bit less triumphant that this format is still around and being appreciated by a minority of music fans.
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