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Vinyl, Once Thought Dead, Makes A Comeback In The Digital Age

Vinyl, Once Thought Dead, Makes A Comeback In The Digital Age

Last year’s 52 percent jump in vinyl sales has been fantastic for record stores — “and growing more important by the day,” Carl Mello, senior buyer for New England music chain Newbury Comics tells Rolling Stone — but the record industry isn’t quite so enthusiastic. The vinyl explosion has been so pronounced that pressing plants can’t keep up with demand, putting retailers in the awkward position of running out of hit LPs such as Taylor Swift’s 1989, Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour and even Jack White’s Lazaretto, which sold more than 86,000 copies and was 2014’s best-selling vinyl album.

But managers and record labels clearly see vinyl as a fad — vinyl makes up just 6 percent of overall album sales, according to Nielsen Soundscan. This may explain why record executives aren’t rushing to prop up the roughly 15 remaining record plants in the U.S. “It’s a great marketing opportunity. While we do expect growth to continue, it’d be hard to project exactly what that’s going to be,” says Candace Berry, general manager of Universal Music Distribution, part of the world’s biggest record label. “I know a lot of people in the business who’ve gotten back into vinyl the last couple years. But I’m not sure they’re playing their vinyl every single day like they’re listening on their device.”

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Universal Music Distribution general manager Candace Berry calls it a “great marketing opportunity” and tells Rolling Stone growth should continue, but that exact projection remains unknown. “I know a lot of people in the business who’ve gotten back into vinyl the last couple years,” she says, “but I’m not sure they’re playing their vinyl every single day like they’re listening on their device.”

Industry leaders like Sony’s RCA Records president Tom Corson and Fall Out Boy co-manager Jonathan Daniel also understand that vinyl’s sentimental value does not equate to their monetary value. Would it be sensible for labels to pour their resources into a sector that has become less significant to artists’ profiles while their fan bases are streaming or digitally downloading the music?

Daniel, whose clients beyond Fall Out Boy include Sia and Wavves speaks from two perspectives. “On a personal level, I love it. I grew up with vinyl. I have a record player. I buy records. It sounds better to me.” However, on a business level, he says “I don’t think it means anything. It’s so small relative to Fall Out Boy or Sia or any of our artists. It’s still not a meaningful part of their business.”

Via: Rolling Stone

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