Yes, it’s true. According to the UK’s Digital Journal online magazine and writer Katherine Ogilvie, “Vinyl continues to be back in vogue, topping new sales records and furthering its slow domination of the music industry market”. You can read the article yourself by clicking here. I couldn’t help but read the article…maybe, just maybe I should seriously consider having a few of my best recordings mastered for vinyl LP and press a couple of thousand. My friend and guitarist extraordinaire Laurence Juber did it with his latest release. I have a numbered copy of the disc. Unfortunately, I don’t have a functioning turntable and doubt that I will be investing in one any time soon.
How is it possible that an author can spin up an article on the “slow domination” of the music industry by vinyl LPs without checking the real numbers? Percentages can’t be trusted. A few years back, I could have claimed that the sales of AIX Records was up 500% and everyone would have been very impressed…until I revealed that my records sales at the time were rather anemic with sales of a few dozen records. Selling triple digits of one of my tracks would have allowed me to brag about “new sales records”…at least in terms of percentages.
Vinyl LPs are a niche market. And that niche has seen six straight years of growth…substantial growth. The percentage increases have been as high as 33-40% over the previous year. The much touted Jack White solo LP
Besides Jack White, vinyl lovers can purchase new releases by Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend, and Queens of the Stone Age.
But here’s the reality. When you look at the percentage of overall domestic album sales generated by vinyl…the number isn’t very impressive. And it certainly doesn’t warrant having effusive articles all over the web claiming that vinyl is going to “dominate” the music industry. The percentage of vinyl is less than 2% of the albums sold this year according to Nielson SoundScan. That number is actually less than the number of album sales of high-resolution audio downloads! But we don’t talk about HRA being poised in similar terms to vinyl.
Maybe the dollar numbers work out better. The number of vinyl LPs sold in the U.S. is a mere 3.7 percent of CDs sold this year domestically.
Vinyl is a niche…and will remain a niche forever. I have very fond memories of vinyl and recognize its benefits: larger artwork, posters, and two sides. Unfortunately, reproducing better fidelity than digital (even compact discs) isn’t among them.
Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass