You may have seen on the news already, but the Vinyl record is at its 25-year high for sales in the United Kingdom. It seems quite strange for such a milestone in this modern digital era. With its steady increase in popularity over the last few years though, and various new record stores doing well for themselves around the country, some don’t see it as much of a surprise.
If you visit your local mainstream entertainment retailer, you’ll likely notice a vinyl record dedicated section. Quite a common sight in most. Sometimes, there’s even a featured record with whatever is currently charting or trending at the entrance of the shop. Ever since its near-extinction in 2007, with only 200,000 sold, the vinyl record has out-sold digital formats for the first time ever. With 3 million sales last year, it’s the highest it has been selling since 1991.
Who’d have thought that an audio format invented back in 1948, would suddenly step its way back up in popularity after supposedly being killed off by the cheaper, more modern CD or digital download?! There is a catch to all of this, however. See if you can spot the trend with the top 10 vinyls that were sold last year:
Top 10 Vinyls sold in 2016
1) David Bowie – Blackstar
2) Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
3) Various Artists – Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix Vol. 1
4) Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
5) Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
6) The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
7) Bob Marley – Legend
8) The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
9) Prince – Purple Rain
10) Nirvana – Nevermind
It’s not too difficult to spot. Apart from Amy Winehouse, they’re mostly artists that were selling more way back in 1991, when vinyl was last at its peak in sales. The recent passings of Winehouse, Bowie and Prince could also have had an effect too. Obviously, this isn’t really much a surprise at all. I can’t image any 12 year-old Justin Bieber fan would want to go out of their way to spin his latest release. Although, it’s not exactly out of the picture, since a lot of these record buyers do in fact seem to be younger audiences, rather than the older generation.
As well as these older classics being remastered and reprinted, a lot of modern artists do feature vinyl as a standard format for their newer releases. This includes the likes of recently reformed British pop band Busted, with their new 2016 comeback album, Night Driver, being pressed and pushed as a vinyl release for an affordable price, all the way through to the louder and darker side of music. For example, Iowa based metal act Slipknot, who’s latest album .5: The Gray Chapter that was released in 2014, sees a fair volume of sales and can sometimes be seen in HMV’s featured section.
With most modern vinyl’s now coming with a digital download code anyway, I personally think it stands a chance at beating its rival formats. With a much clearer artwork sleeve, tidier packaging, superior audio quality and being an all-around great physical product to possess, it seems like a no-brainer in my humble opinion. It does turn out though, that a lot of the younger generation that own vinyl do admit to not actually listen to their LPs, and just continue to stream, keeping it as more of a token of gratitude to their favorite artists. Some even say they buy LPs, regardless of not owning a turntable.
So, there is still work to be done for the vinyl’s return and world domination, but it’s a hopeful start for any record elitists out there.