Rising like a phoenix from the ashes after a good two decades of inertia, the vinyl revolution has been primarily lead by hipsters (or so we are lead to think). For almost a decade, vinyl has been shedding its sad image as the favourite of aging mods and punk rockers stuck in a time warp. Today many of us, young and old, have come back to this long lost ritual of listening to our favourite music.
The simple joys of owning something tangible, admiring the album’s artwork, reading through the song lyrics printed on the back, and that distinct sound one hears when the needle hits the record, is what is fuelling this revolution.
With streaming services like Spotify et al ruling the roost of contemporary music listening, everyone from ordinary music lovers to industry experts alike thought that we had hit the end of the road, but when we reach an endpoint of innovation, we will so often go back and rediscover the pleasures of what was consigned to history. It’s happened in fashion and it’s happened in art, so it was inevitable that it would happen in music.
Tom, a member of staff at HMV in Chichester, West Sussex, says: “It’s a really exciting time for vinyl lovers. I’ve worked here for two years, and our vinyl section has continued to expand, which when you consider HMV was in turmoil just a few years back is amazing. What’s surprising is the amount of different people I see every day looking through the massive collections we have. We’re a university town, so of course there are a lot of students, as well as 20 and 30 something’s, but also mothers with their children, old guys who haven’t even ventured into an HMV store for years and those that are just generally curious.”
How streaming helped vinyl sales
Music streaming has, albeit inadvertently, played the biggest role in spurring people on to try out vinyl, especially among young people. A recent poll conducted by ICM for the BBC showed that half of the consumers polled said they have listened to an album online before buying a vinyl copy.
Martin, a 55-year-old music aficionado and father of three boys from Brighton, East Sussex, says: “I’ve been buying albums since the late 1970’s, so my boys have been brought up hearing vinyl since birth. However, it’s only been in the last five years that they’ve become a fan. I hate to say it, but it wasn’t through my influence but through streaming. They’re all in their late teens and early twenties, and each of them came to this realisation that music sounded better through an LP spinning on a turntable. They’ve also said that services like iTunes, Spotify and online piracy are giving a rough deal to emerging artists, so there’s definitely a bit of doing what’s right by others in their decision too.”
The vinyl revolution has shown us that the old ways are definitely still the best ways. This year alone sales of vinyl are up 61.8% according to Music Business Worldwide, with more than 640k LP’s purchased in Q1 2016! So, the fires of this revolution will not be dampening anytime soon.