Is this the end of physical media? With the world slowly but surely shifting to an all-digital future, analogue seems to be on its last legs. However, it’s not giving up without a fight. Since 2009, the vinyl resurgence has given analogue a new lease on life. The priceless value of vinyl records reek of nostalgia with their beautiful rich sounds. The desire to retain music in a physical format has made them very popular with new generation hipsters.
Vinyl records offer more than just music… after all, mp3’s are just zeros and ones on a computer. They have beautiful cover designs, look great on shelves, and a vinyl collection is much better to show off than a library on a phone. It may be for these very reasons that vinyl sales have been booming. According to Digital Trends, the LP is about to break a 20-year-old sales record. Sales of the age-old format from last year and the current year amount to a staggering 4 million, and are forecasted to reach 7 million by the time we hit 2015.
This is a profound milestone in the electronic world we now live in. Annual sales have not dipped below 2.5 million records over the past five years. One of the main reasons behind this vinyl resurgence is Jack White, founder of ‘Third Man Records’. His latest album ‘Lazaretto’ broke sales records set by Pearl Jam’s 90’s classic ‘Vitalogy’ for “most vinyl LPs sold in one calendar year in two months”.
On the flipside, along with the good also comes the bad. These retro beauties cost more to manufacture and retail than CD and mp3 albums. Vinyl record sales reportedly contributed only $218 million to the global music business last year. For this reason, White himself has invested $5.5 million to make new vinyl presses, as the last ones were made in the early 80’s. Though just 16 presses, those too for his personal use, others like him who are also interested in continuing the resurgence will have to make similar investment.
The vinyl might be a blast from the past, but it’s very much needed in this digital-dependent era. There’s a beauty about the physical nature of books, records and films that just can’t be enjoyed digitally. While a totally digital future is in all likelihood possible, records won’t stop spinning until old-school patrons decide to raise the white flag.