The world is experiencing a noticeable rise in the popularity of vinyl records among electronic music lovers. We tell you why vinyl is back and who makes it.
Why are vinyl records back?
Vinyl remained popular until about the end of the eighties in the last century. Later, it was replaced by more compact and convenient CDs and audio cassettes. However, there has been a revival of vinyl records in recent years: in 2016, top sales reached a maximum in 25 years. Several reasons contributed to this.
An active revival of vinyl discs began in 2007. Then they established Record Store Day – a holiday during which hundreds of stores worldwide arrange concerts and sell exclusive music recordings, most often on records. That helped revive interest in “vinyl culture.”
Part of the rise in vinyl’s popularity is attributed to the rise of streaming services. People yearn for the feeling of being physically involved in listening to music, and a tactile format like a vinyl disc can satisfy that longing.
In the case of a vinyl record, you can’t just press a button on the player. You need to take an envelope from the shelf and put it on the player. At the same time, the vinyl record library must be properly looked after and cleaned regularly. For some people, these processes have become a kind of ritual.
Vinyl record sound is also attractive for distortion, which fans say gives the music liveliness. Due to the slight background rustle, the vinyl creates a unique sound different from the digital release.
Accompanying materials play a significant role in the popularity of records – booklets and album covers. A vinyl release is not just a carrier of musical information but an art object. There are collector’s editions of discs and box sets with autographed artists. There are versions of albums on colored vinyl. Two releases of the same music can look completely different.
Old school and new releases
The vinyl record market can generally be divided into old releases (old school) and remakes. Old releases are records released before the “vinyl boom.” New releases are the remaking of old albums and unique works of contemporary musicians. Both of these formats are popular today. The difficulty is only that the number of old releases is limited, and finding a retro disc in good condition can be difficult.
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Vinyl record discs are now produce by both old and new factories trying to carve out a niche. Pirates Press revived its production in 2010. In 2017, rock musician Jack White’s Third Man Records opened its factory in Detroit, complete with new machines. At the same time, small indie record factories are opening in the United States. An example would be the Cascade Records plant in Portland.
Factories are also opening in other countries. For example, Sony installed a vinyl cutting machine in its Tokyo studio two years ago.
Independent factories produce 30-40 thousand records a month. The prominent American records factory Gotta Groove Records manufactures about 80 thousand, and the largest vinyl producer – the Czech factory GZ Media produces up to one and a half million records. However, these volumes are still not enough to satisfy the global demand for vinyl records.
Sales will continue to grow.
Statistics show that in 2022, vinyl continued to gain popularity in various countries. In the US, vinyl sales for the first half of 2022 increased by 19.2% compared to the same period a year earlier and amounted to 7.6 million records. In Canada, vinyl disc sales grew by 66.6%. There is reason to believe that these figures will continue to increase in the new year. Vinyl is still the most popular format at the worldwide Discogs flea market.
Vinyl, which is experiencing a bright renaissance, does not fall behind as new technologies emerge to facilitate the production of records and allow the carrier to deliver better sound quality. And the upside of these innovations is that vinyl is still a physical medium that originated in the twentieth century.
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