Vinyl has had a major resurgence in the public eye throughout the past few years. Current projections estimate that total vinyl sales for 2017 will be 40 million units – the highest that it has been since the 1980s.
Is vinyl the future of the music industry and what can record labels learn about the vinyl resurgence? Though it is impossible to predict the future, for the past 7 years, vinyl has seen double digit growth year after year. Though vinyl sales make up only 6 percent of all revenues derived in the music industry, the reason why so many people are paying attention to this trend is because of the implication.
Though it may not apply to everyone, there is a percentage of the music audience that is buying vinyl. This may not surprise many people as vinyl has been shown to have a superior quality of sound than other forms of listening, presents the artist in the form of something that can be held in one’s own two hands, and the act of playing vinyl is an experience unlike putting on an iTunes playlist.
The act of having to go to a music store to purchase the vinyl also presents opportunities to meet other fans of your favourite artist. In addition, a user also gets beautiful 12 x 12 artwork that is as much an aesthetic and a piece of décor as it is an expression of the vinyl album contained in its package.
There are plenty of reasons for the audience to buy into vinyl compared to seeking out the sounds elsewhere. Many industry leaders have also responded to the vinyl sales and the vinyl movement with initiatives such as the now-annual Record Store Day, which happens on April 22, 2017 this year. There is a sentimentality to vinyl that may in fact help to carry it into the future. Compared to cassette tapes and CDs, vinyl has been able to survive because of all the benefits that it offers sonically as well as its attraction as a piece of memorabilia.
Knowing all this, again we ask is vinyl the future? The answer is that it certainly appears that it might be.
Being able to download a track, view the YouTube video, or to stream it via Spotify, and that need for convenience is always going to be present. Though these sites may be old news in time, the idea of ‘convenience’ is going to forever dominate the future of the music industry.
Though vinyl may not be ‘convenient’ for most people, it has a role to play. The value and the investment of a vinyl record is similar to crowdfunding, is an aesthetic that is pleasing to more and more people, and demonstrates a listener who is willing to put the artist before the convenience of an iPhone.
As vinyl continues to experience an upswing, independent record labels should feel encouraged to participate.
An artist with their own vinyl album will appeal to very specific demographic of the music world. This can help get an artist noticed with a given audience, can help to get an artist established, and can be the beginning to generating momentum that can be spun into other memorabilia. The consideration of vinyl in the production of a long play (LP) or extended play (EP) product is a conversation that any music industry record label needs to have in the year 2017.