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Sunday, 19 October 2014

SV Stop 231: Vinyl sales to top 1 million per year for the first time since 1996

dionysus links an article on SC from the Financial Times, which you can read by registering on the site with an email address (money is demanded for the news archive or newspaper, naturally). 


Some thoughts on vinyl from Muttley

Since 2011, with talk speculating around digital media services like www.boomkat.com selling more and more wax, the vinyl format has seen a paradoxically eternal increase in interest, not guessable since its renaissance began.

Audio streaming, and media streaming for that matter, has always been the antithesis of ownership in the 21st Century. Is it any wonder, just as it takes effort to turn over a record played for a limited time, there is an unlimited service that transcends it? As ever, for every unlimited service, those who are possessive by character need the ownership over streaming a media, it feeds them.

As such, with the increase of services like Spotify re-administrating the boundary between 'sharing' and 'streaming', it's not surprising that many have fallen back on their laurels of traditional formats. It's easier for one: why flick through Spotify or YouTube ads, or indeed get stuck with an ad playing between a release, when you can put on a record or CD, a copy you can call your own?

The fetishisation of ownership has always been there in culture - just read some of Adorno's 20th century tirades on fetishism. Or you could not, as it's a bygone era that started with vinyl in the early 1900s. Plus most of his writing is more drawn out than mine, and that's a major achievement!

Personally I don't (literally and figuratively) buy in to the vinyl fetish resurgence. I'm not fashionable and I never will or want to be. If I really liked the format I would transcend fashion to keep playing it when I want, but as it is over-sized sleeves and disinterested artwork seems the choice of hipster dogmatism instead of a heartfelt inside-industry (meaning punters, producers, art directors etc) choice to re-energise the LP format with big, expansive covers. Covers as with benchmarks like Pink Floyd's LPs that told a story and were quintessential to the listening experience.

It becomes vitalising to say that without the interest in physicality, vinyl wouldn't be resurfacing as much. Usual story there: most copy or media goes digital, more people crave physical. It would still always be here - like tapes and jungle, vinyl has never gone away. The difference remains how great a market share it now has - as reported, over 1 million record sales this year so far. But so what? As given most of these sales are for fragmentary releases, the potency of the figure, without reading the FT article, doesn't indicate a major achievement. This is because a lot of the sales are for singles/EPs, as opposed to the 60s & 70s precursory musical hallmark, the long-player.

Still, it's a plus one for the music industry, and maybe an ushering-in of less disposable marketing methods. Picture vinyl in 5 years: it'll probably go through another dip, falling out of favour through tension/release, accept/reject schizoid-ness of the mass public opinion. We may see even more lame promo videos of fetishisation personified: it's all about the bling, about the bling, drug trippin'. It's no coincedence vinyl is referred to by some as "the black crack"; let's just hope its marketers don't disappear up their own arses just yet.

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