The recording industry nowadays has gone through many changes all over the years. For this year, it may come as a surprise for everyone. When the mid-year report of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) came out, nobody expected that the income generated from the sales of vinyl records could overtake that of compact discs (CDs)! When the music industry made use of CDs in 1982, many people claimed that it could be the end of vinyl records. Oh, they’re in for a rude awakening!
As of the moment, 80% of the music industry’s income is from online streaming services. Through the years, there have been four major formats that record industries have recorded on music:
- Vinyl Records
- 8-Track Tapes
- Cassette Tapes
- Compact Discs
For each generation, these record formats have become our music banks. Each has successfully transitioned from each new generation. But, the continued support for vinyl records up to now makes it truly remarkable. Perhaps only the true vinyl aficionados are not surprised about this news.
According to CNBC, there has been an increasing trend in the sales of vinyl LPs, both new and used. There was a surging 55.8% increase in sales from 2010 to 2011, and then a whopping 131.8% increase from 2011 to 2012! Also, there was an increase in sales by 18.5% in the sales of new vinyl records alone from 2016 to 2017.
The price of vinyl records also increased! In 2007, a new vinyl LP would cost around $4.80 according to eBay. Fast-forward ten years later, a new vinyl record would cost you around $28.40! That is a whopping 490% increase in ten years!
As the sales for vinyl records go up, CD sales began declining. According to the 2018 year-end report of RIAA, CDs have plummeted down to 34%, having a total sales of only $698 million. It is the first time in history that CD sales have gone below $1 billion since 1986.
Accordingly, music streaming services have a direct effect on the decline of sales in CDs, and the increase for vinyl records. Back then, people would go to record stores to buy CDs, cassette tapes, or vinyl records with their favorite artist’s music in it. You have to listen to every song on the album before you get to the radio hit. There is that “commitment” each music lover made between their favorite artist. If you are a genuine audiophile, the more you have, the more you want! Nowadays, if people want to listen to music, all they have to do is go online and stream the music they want to listen to via apps. Streaming has made music readily accessible for everybody but somehow made it distasteful to some.
In this age of technology, people nowadays would go for music streaming. But, is there a downside to music streaming? You wouldn’t believe it, but yes, there is. People naturally get attached to things they like. People still love to collect “physical” things. Streaming is somehow “ethereal,” and you can’t make a physical collection from that. But why vinyl? Well, if you haven’t seen a vinyl record before, the cover sleeve art and the LP itself, is worth collecting. And besides, it’s hip to own a vinyl collection.
Does a vinyl record sound great? According to Steve Hoffman, a music master engineer, and an audiophile himself, says that vinyl has a “warmer” sound compared to other media. He has worked with the albums of artists like Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and Paul McCartney. The sound quality hasn’t changed in the last 40 years. The precision of its cut and the gear used is vintage, so it stays nice and balanced, just like how they did it before. When the industry went digital, anything may seem possible. So if a digital sound engineer happens to be a bad one, chances are, the results could be disastrous.
CDs are too pricey nowadays. According to John Kioussis, owner of Rockit Scientist Records, an independent album may cost $18.99 in CD format, and the reissues of the album can even be more expensive! Some reissue albums have very low sales on CDs, so now they shifted to vinyl records!
Unbelievably, streaming helped sell many vinyl records! Surprisingly, when people discover artists through online streaming services like Spotify, vinyl records get bought at record stores! There is a renaissance happening to vinyl records nowadays. But the only way for such opportunities to remain if record labels produce only high-quality vinyl records.