In the UK, as November turned to December, sales of vinyl records hit £2.4 million last week, beating the £2.1 million from digital downloads. There is also anecdotal evidence that the resurgence of vinyl is not just people of a certain reliving past musical memories.
New generations buy vinyl records
Kim Bayley, chief executive of the Entertainment Retailers Association told The Guardian, “We have a new generation buying vinyl, lots of teenagers and lots of people under 25, who now want to buy their favourite artists on vinyl and have something a bit more tangible, a bit more collectible. People have become keen to support their favourite artists by buying into that ownership concept. It’s very difficult to demonstrate your love of an artist if you don’t have something to hold on to.”
Sean Forbes, who manages record shop Rough Trade West in London, which has been selling vinyl since 1979, said there was a “massive increase” in people buying vinyl and that new racks had been put in all Rough Trade shops to meet demand.
“Now it’s everyone who comes in to buy it, from 10-year-olds to 90-year-olds, we get the whole breadth,” said Forbes. “We now get a lot of people come in with their kids, and mum and dad want to start them off with a starter pack of good records. But you also still have the 65-year-old man who smells of weed who will always come into a record shop, stand around and then ask for something you haven’t got, and then leave. So it hasn’t changed completely.”
Adam Gillison of Jumbo Records told The Independent: “Ultimately, in this digital world our customers are continually looking for a tangible, physical way to celebrate their love for their favourite artists – something that digital services simply cannot offer.
“On top of this, over the last nine years the popularity of Record Store Day has continued to soar across the UK, so it comes as no surprise that the vinyl market continues to surge in this way.”
Vinyl records are priced higher
While the revenue figures are higher, vinyl albums are priced much higher than downloads. Last week’s biggest-selling vinyl was Kate Bush’s triple-disc live album Before The Dawn, which retails at £52. A download of the same recording is available for £12.
All of which means that downloads are still the more popular product. According to the ERA, 120,000 vinyl albums were sold last week, compared with 295,000 digital ones.
The “vinyl revival” has been one of the most surprising success stories of the digital music era.
The format has now shown eight consecutive years of growth since facing near extinction in 2007, although it still represents less than 2% of the overall music market.
Overall sales of music have declined from about £634m in 2012 to £610m in 2015. The culture of paying for music may have missed a generation but is hopefully coming back as a new generation appreciate the struggles faced by new artists and damage done by streaming or downloading music for free.by