Friday, December 05, 2014

Run-out groove?

So, vinyl sales have soared beyond one million for the first time since 1996. However, as this in-depth Pitchfork article reveals, vinyl's revival neither spells the death of digital, nor is it something to be unequivocally celebrated. On the contrary, vinyl is likely to remain a niche interest (indeed, downloads are often offered as a free extra with vinyl purchases) and the boom is causing problems particularly for indie labels, who are finding pressing plants have increasingly limited capacity to produce their albums due to large jobs for majors who are capitalising on the fashion and coining it as a result.

Nevertheless, the upward trend is so sharp that it can't be ignored, and I'm delighted that rumours of vinyl's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Personally speaking, there's something about the fact that, in this day and age, when everything is dominated by digital, people are still keen to have physical artefacts and to buy records as a specifically "aesthetic choice". While I've never been a vinyl junkie, I can completely understand that impulse - and it's especially fitting given the time-consuming and labour-intensive nature of the process of manufacturing a record. Music should still be something to be cherished and respected, after all, and digital culture undermines that.

As an aside, I was amused by Amoeba Records' Marc Weinstein's comment that in the past "everyone had an altar to their music in their homes - a stereo, speakers, and LP rack readily visible". Some of us never moved on, Marc. What's the old adage about a stopped clock still telling the right time twice a day?

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