DIGITAL album sales have towered above vinyl for years, but in a turn of the tables last week, it was vinyl album sales that trumped digital.
Figures from The Entertainment Retailers Assosiation (ERA), published last week, showed that vinyl sales earned the record industry £2.4m in week 48 of 2016, while downloads took in £2.1m. This is a radical increase
from November last year, when it was reported that vinyl albums made £1.2m in sales and digital records made £4.4m.
With vinyls now being sold alongside CDs in mainstream high street stores such as Tesco, HMV and Urban Outfitter, the popularity of vinyl isn’t something new. In May last year, John Lewis’ sales of turntables increased by an astounding 240% in the first months of the year compared to the year before. As soon as Christmas ended, Amazon reported that they had sold more turntables than any other home audio product over the Christmas period. There is undeniably an ever increasing market for vinyl records. But where has this trend come from?
It seems to be the younger generation that kick started the revival of the vinyl, with an underground, hipster group that reverted back to vinyls and turntables. As more and more people began purchasing records, artists picked up on the trend and started creating vinyl albums and singles, while also offering free digital downloads alongside their vinyl records.
Walking around Manchester’s Northern Quarter, it’s hard to miss all the vinyl shops, such as Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange and Vinyl Revival. It’s important that record lovers keep buying from these independent retailers and not allow these independent stores to be beaten by commercial giants on the high street. We’ve already seen large corporate retailers overshadow independent local businesses in regards to things like groceries and household items, let’s not allow them to do the same with vinyl.
— The Vinyl Factory (@TheVinylFactory) December 8, 2016
Colin White works at Vinyl Revival in Manchester. Speaking about the current popularity of vinyl, he said:
“I think music buyers are fed up with paying for a product and not receiving anything physical. People like something tangible and vinyl is the perfect format for this. Sleeve artwork has always played an important part in vinyl sales, Factory records are the prime example. Also over the last few years the major labels have noticed the increase in sales and have jumped back on the bandwagon which created a lot more press.”
Talking about the effect on his own store, Colin said:
“I have noticed a steady increase in vinyl sales over the last 5 years. The increase is mainly new vinyl as a lot more titles have been reprinted. This only counter balances the decline in cd sales though which I think is an important point.
“The customer demographic used to be mainly middle aged men but have noticed a lot more younger people have got the bug for vinyl over the last few years and we also have quite a number of female regular customers these days.”
Ellie Somers, 20, an avid vinyl collector and university student here in Manchester, said:
“I just think vinyl is so much more authentic than a CD or playing music out of my phone. They are slightly more expensive but they are so worth it. You have a vinyl forever, it’s almost like buying a piece of art. And the good thing about vinyl now is that with most purchases you usually get a free download of the artist’s album. So it’s a win win.”
It’s hard to say when this trend will die out, if it will at all, but for now it seems like vinyl is here to stay. Who knows? Maybe in five years we’ll be seeing the CD revival or maybe even the cassette tape revival…
Check out Vinyl Revival here