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The Resurrection of Vinyl Records: Playing Back History

The history of vinyl records is unique to the music distribution industry. Its decline was previously imminent, due to the increased sales in other forms of music distribution. Therefore, it makes absolutely no sense that vinyl has been rising out of the ashes. Richard Oliver, from The Odyssey, has described vinyl as “the new, yet recycled trend in music” but why has this happened? InterMusic is here to find out!

The 25-Year High for Vinyl Records

According to Hannah Ellis-Petersen, the sales of vinyl in 2016 “reached a 25-year high” with “consumers young and old” having embraced vinyl records. With the older and younger consumers of music purchasing vinyl records, there is a new audience for this format of distributed music. In support of this idea, Vanessa Higgins, the CEO of Regent Street and Gold Bar Records, said: “It’s twofold in that older people are going back to vinyl but I also think the younger generation are discovering it in a way they weren’t before“. She also acknowledged the common nature of the younger generation and streaming by saying “I think we are going to see that young people want something tangible and that’s where vinyl is taking on the role that the CD used to have“. With this being in 2016, people wondered whether vinyl would continue to be popular in the future.

An image of a vinyl cover and people having a look at it
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The Continued Success of Vinyl Records

In 2018, Roisin O’Connor reported that “some critics were sceptical as to whether [the success of vinyl] would last through 2017“. In response to this, O’Connor revealed that “music fans are continuing to purchase more vinyl than ever“. She also states that vinyl sales had been pushed to “a level not seen since the days of Nirvana’s Nevermind in the early Nineties“.

Matt Ingham, from Cherry Red Records, suggests that the resurrection of vinyl is linked to the discovering of music. He said that “genuine music discovery is coming from the fresh resurgence in vinyl“. With vinyl being a key element in the discovery of music, it has become a key source for music collecting. In saying this, Ingham adds that “the combination of new and old technology means the industry can provide the public with music to treasure forever“. Therefore, providing people with a physical form that music can be stored upon allows for the ability to collect vinyl records of music of all ages.

An image of a girl looking at a vinyl record
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Vinyl Records in 2018

As 2019 has begun, the Vinyl sales for 2018 have been calculated. According to Robin Murray, from Clash, “4.2 million vinyl albums were sold across 2018“. Murray acknowledges that this does not “match the percentage growth of previous years” but it is still a lot bigger than what has been on vinyl records in the past 25 years. However, Murray suggests that “there’s currently no sign of vinyl going away” and says that vinyl is in “rude health“; a signifier of strong health. Therefore, as of January 2019, the sign that vinyl is going nowhere is strong. However, with the publication of the Top 10 Best Selling Vinyls for 2018, there has been a discovery. Can you notice it? The Top 10 Best Selling Vinyls for 2018 are as follows:

  1. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel And Casino
  2. Motion Picture Cast Recording – The Greatest Showman
  3. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
  4. Queen – Greatest Hits
  5. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
  6. George Ezra – Staying At Tamara’s
  7. Nirvana – Nevermind
  8. Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory
  9. David Bowie – Legacy
  10. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

It is prominent that there are only “three new releases in the 2018 chart“. With the other seven releases sparking from across the years, there’s an indication that the resurgence has brought back older music. Therefore, whether this is a first time discovery or the increase of a vinyl collection, the resurrection of vinyl has brought the old and the new together.

An image of a woman looking through vinyl records in a shop
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Conclusion

Over the past few years, the resurrection of vinyl has been prominent in the area of music distribution. With the 25-year high and the collecting of vinyls, vinyl records have come back with a bang and they have even taken over in the sale of physical formats. It has been made apparent that “CD sales are falling three times faster than vinyl is growing” and there is a pathway being made for vinyl to be the dominant form of physical music. Whether this is just a phase or a permanent move in the industry of music distribution, it is uncertain. But could the cassette tape come back next? Only time will tell.

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