The Revival of Vinyl – Written by Henry Gibson
Vinyl records are an iconic image that have contributed to the representation of music itself since the 1950s and has remained its prominence even to this very day. Nowadays, vinyl is considered by some as an impractical way to experience music due to there being more efficient choices such as iTunes. However, there continues to be an abundant trend for vinyl even though its use has declined since the founding of CDs and online stores. Vinyl records are manufactured for the majority of genres and styles of music and are often limited in the number that are released. The British Phonographic Industry conducted research that revealed more than a million vinyl records were purchased in the United Kingdom in 2014 for the first time in 20 years (BPI, 2016).
There are are many factors to be considered when concerning the rise in popularity of vinyl sales. For most, the exclusivity of owning a vinyl record collection may be one of the biggest appeals. Most owners claim that vinyl holds a superior sound with crisp, clear quality that outshines today’s digitally compressed norm. Disregarding the big price tags and prolonged release dates, this unique element is a big attraction to music purists and others alike. The director of research at Parks Associates claims that ‘It would seem that they are bringing the products back to create or capitalize on a nostalgia wave’ (Time, 2015). Consumers prefer having a physical commodity rather than just a file on the screen, which adds ‘magic’ to their listening pleasure.
It could be also be argued that the rising popularity of vinyl records is a result of the mega trends of self identification and individualism. With a rapidly growing population, the existence of these trends have been concurrently increasing. As people follow the technological advances that music now has to offer, others may reject this and choose to remain with the origin of the culture. Machan claims ‘This may seem paradoxical: one of the defining attributes of the human (kind of) being is the distinctive potential for individuality, based on both diversity and personal choice.’ (p12, 2016). Associating themselves with ‘vinyl culture’, allows people to feel apart of something exclusive that matches their characteristics and outlook on the subject. Because of these mega trends, vinyl has formed to become a meso trend.
The use of vinyl could be considered as a ‘fashion’ on the life cycle of a trend. This is because it is has been revived from the past after a period of inactivity. The originators would be companies like Technic who are still releasing up to date vinyl record players for consumers. Vinyl is also being kept alive by trendsetters such as DJs that are playing vinyl records at clubs, events and parties. Their audience, who idolise, follow and support them will follow in their footsteps and continue to push the trend.
Even though vinyl is rising in popularity and use, it is still a very small percentage in comparison to CD and online sales. Many people forget that vinyl is one of the most traditional ways of experiencing music and will always remain this way. Currently it is too early to predict whether it will carry on to live for years to come or crash and burn.
So, as technology advances at a rapid rate, will vinyl still remain a worthy contender?
Machan, Tibor R. (2016). Individualism in the right key. Contemporary Readings in Law & Social Justice. Vol. 8 Issue 1, p11-19. 9p.
Here’s Why Music Lovers Are Turning to Vinyl and Dropping Digital. Time. (2015.)
Vinyl album sales soar past the 1M mark for the first time in nearly two decades. BPI. (2016)