The Revival of Vinyl

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?

 

Bibliography

 

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.)

http://fortune.com/2016/04/16/vinyl-sales-record-store-day/

 

Vinyl album sales soar past the 1M mark for the first time in nearly two decades. BPI. (2016)

http://www.bpi.co.uk/home/vinyl-album-sales-soar-past-the-1m-mark-for-the-first-time-in-nearly-two-decades.aspx

 

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3 thoughts on “The Revival of Vinyl

  1. Nice article about a retro-trend, you address the right topics on it.
    I wonder however why do you write that “The use of vinyl could be considered as a ‘fashion’ on the life cycle of a trend”. Although you give arguments, this sentence gives the impression that you are not really sure of this is a trend or a fashion; that is confusing. Keep in mind that in this case the meso trend lies on the revival of vinyl (as a consumer need/desire) and not in the vinyl (the product) itself. I suggest you adjust the sentence above (explain a bit more what you mean or take it out) to avoid misunderstandings.
    Apart from this observation, good work with an interesting closing question to think about.

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  2. Hi Henry,

    An article close to my heart. I’m admittedly one of those individualism, trend following, vinyl record collectors. To make it even worse I bought a record player last year which is in the period vinyl sales went up with 53% (Digital Trends 2015).

    In your article you insinuate that vinyl can be seen as a rejection towards digital music like iTunes and Spotify, however for me that is not the case. Besides collecting vinyl I still use my Spotify account intensively and love listening to the radio from time to time. For me collecting vinyl records is about buying something physically from the artist I love. It makes me more excited for new albums coming out. I never preorder on iTunes, however when, for example, a few weeks ago ‘Slaves’ announced their new album I immediately preordered it on vinyl.

    You ask the question; “as technology advances at a rapid rate, will vinyl still remain a worthy contender?” And I think that the technology advancing at a rapid rate is what makes vinyl a worthy contender. I think the more technology advanced the more technological products will appear. This gives us as consumers a choice. Take for example e-books. Great. But a lot of people choose to still buy books. When there used to be a scarcity of advanced technology everyone wanted it. Now we have so much technology that I feel like people can’t be bothered with keeping up with everything and just make a choice of what they think fits their needs. For me I want to listen Spotify on the bike, listen radio in the train and spin a vinyl record at home from time to time because I like the atmosphere.

    I was wondering what you think, vinyl of course is a micro trend, it’s on a product/market level. But what do you think about the whole digital/not digital trend I just talk about, is this maybe a meso trend because it is on a consumer level?

    Merle Veurman 1636541

    Source
    Digital Trends. Palermino, C, L. Vinyl sales are still on the rise in 2015, fueling a revival that keeps pointing up (20 April 2015). Retrieved 14 September 2016 from
    http://www.digitaltrends.com/music/vinyl-revival-continues-q1-2015/

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  3. You leave us with an interesting question. Personally I like vinyl alot, I listen and collect vinyl for a couple of reasons. I think they have a different more authentic sound than the digitally compressed tunes we hear today. I think the fact that it is one of the most traditional way of listening to music is also quite neat to experience in our century. Also you said: ‘Consumers prefer having a physical commodity rather than just a file on the screen, which adds ‘magic’ to their listening pleasure.’ which i can relate to aswell. It becomes way more of an experience when you put on the record and see the black disc spinning and spinning. We also see that traditional products are becoming more and more popular these days. But what about the future indeed? At some time the ‘traditional trend’ will blow over and that might be the day that vinyl loses its magic again. The fact I don’t listen to vinyl all day every day is because it’s way easier to just play something on my pc or phone on spotify. Way easier! I think we will always keep collectors and vinyl lovers, but when the mega trend behind it wears off, I think we will see a great downfall in the vinyl industrie which results in the end of the vinyl trend. So my anwser is yes. But do keep in mind that after a trend dies, another takes place. And when that trend dies, the old one replaces it again. It’s kind of like a wave. So in the future’s future we will probably see our beloved vinyl rise again.

    Olmo Borsboom – 1666984

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