Owning vinyl records definitely seems to some like an archaic way of owning music that only the older generations really have anything to do with. It is a way of enjoying music that may not cross some people’s minds, thought of as something that lives in the past and has died with the introduction of first CDs and more recently streaming sites.
But the reality is that the ‘death of vinyl’ never truly happened, and in fact in recent years owning vinyl is something that people have really got back into. It is actually one of the most popular ways of listening to music at the moment, and record sales hit a 25-year high in 2017. This is an increase of 53% from 2015, and shows that this music format is far from obsolete.
But why exactly have people got back into the groove of owning vinyl in recent years? We thought we’d take a look at a few of the reasons why the tables appear to have turned.
A tangible way to enjoy music
We chatted to Spincare who are specialists in vinyl care and accessories about why they think people may be getting so much enjoyment out of vinyl as a physical format. They told us “there’s something hugely enjoyable about owning a vinyl record, and we think that people really do appreciate the ritual of putting a record on to play and the care that is required to keep them in good condition.
The records themselves are almost like works or art, with beautiful sleeves that make you want to keep them on display in your home. In fact, some people do buy vinyl just to put it on display without playing it, which may seem a little bit strange to some. A 2016 ICM poll for the BBC discovered that 7% of people surveyed who had bought vinyl records didn’t even actually own a turntable!
It’s likely that some of these people have a number of artists who they love and will stream a lot, but also want something that they can look at and appreciate. It’s also a great way of supporting your favourite artists financially, whether you own a record player or not. They also make great gifts for any music lovers in your life.”
Many people are of the opinion that streaming services are killing the music industry, as it will lead to fewer sales of physical formats and digital downloads. However, when it comes to vinyl it seems that this is not the case.
The immediate availability of music via streaming services is actually proving to be a very convenient way of exposing music fans to new discoveries and broadening their musical horizons.
These people then often go on to collect their favourite records, and while CDs are no longer a very practical or attractive option, as we’ve already touched upon vinyl offers a different experience.
Streaming is more of a service for accessing music than ownership, and the algorithms and machine learning involved in sites such as Spotify mean that they can actually suggest music to people who will appreciate it. Unlike the radio or chart shows, this does not have to be the latest artists, and often people will be introduced to the music of musicians from the past as well as more current chart toppers.
VDC Group, an official partner of Sony, offer up another reason for the popularity of vinyl; sound quality. They explained to us “for many audiophiles the sound of vinyl is definitely the number on reason for building a collection.
When compared with digital music and CDs, vinyl offers a warmer, richer quality of sound that digitally compressed tracks just can’t give you. A vinyl record also offers a chance to hear an album exactly the way the artist intended, from start to finish. Quite often the pause between tracks has been carefully thought about, which you lose when listening out of order or reuploaded.”