Vinyl made a major comeback in the mid 2008 and I don’t think the format will become extinct any time soon. According to industry tracker Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl record sales reached 1.9 million units in 2008, and then grew to 2.5 million in 2009, to 2.8 million in 2010, to 3.6 million in 2011 (projected).
Here are some of the possible reasons why it’s back:
Sound Quality. Music aficionados say you can hear the difference in sound and that vinyl is better than CD or digital files. People have been listening to MP3s for more than a decade and when they listen to vinyl records for the first time, they can tell there’s something slightly different with the sound quality. Here’s one vinyl lover explaining why he likes the vinyl experience: “Records have a more omni-dimensional sound that really fills the room a lot better. LPs sound warmer, and you are more likely to notice subtle sounds and instruments” according to Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Music & Movies in Gainesville, Florida.
Vinyls pressed today sound better than those pressed in the 60s. This is because the original recordings are now digital rather than lower quality tape masters. The recording equipment used today is far more advanced as well.
Surface Noise. Part of the vinyl experience is the hum of the needle along the record grooves and the occasional crackling sound. Romantic, poetic, artistic people love this add-on. It adds texture to the whole experience.
Nostalgia. Those who are from the sixties and seventies miss the way they listen to music. Although digital music is portable and very convenient, they still like experiencing music in their living rooms. Digital music will never die, but it seems like we can say the same thing to Vinyl records.
Tactile Experience. Some music lovers feel like MP3s make them lose out on any sort of physical interaction with the music they are listening to. It’s just music and nothing more. Everyone can have it, it can be shared, it’s free. But there are some people who like EXPERIENCING music. The experience of opening the wrapper, smelling the sleeve, actually touching the record are what most people pay for when they buy vinyl records.
Collectible. Vinyl record sleeves are nice to look at. They have more aesthetic appeal compared to CDs or tapes. A shelf full of vinyl record have more impact compared to a shelf full of CDs or a media player with billions of music files. Some people even buy vinyl records just because they love the packaging.
Valuable. Of all the music formats, vinyl has the most value. Vinyl records today might sell 10 times its original price 20 years from now. I do not think the case would be the same with CDs, or tapes, or digital files (snort!). Vinyl records in itself is more aesthetically appealing and more artistic and is therefore more valuable. Here’s proof that the aesthetics of the vinyl packaging affects sales.
TOP SELLING VINYL LPS OF 2010
1. The Beatles, Abbey Road (35,000)
2. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (18,800)
3. The Black Keys, Brothers (18,400)
4. Vampire Weekend, Contra (15,000)
5. Michael Jackson, Thriller (14,200)
6. The National, High Violet (13,600)
7. Beach House, Teen Dream (13,000)
8. Jimi Hendrix Experience, Valleys of Neptune (11,400)
9. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (10,600)
10. The xx, The xx (10,200)
These are just some of the reasons why I think vinyl is here to stay forever.
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