The vinyl business is booming. In fact, it’s more than booming, it’s breaking records. The sales of vinyl records in the UK in 2020 are the highest since the 90s. We explore the reasons why.
Going back to basics
Did you know that one in five of all albums purchased in 2020 were vinyl?
So, what’s the cause for the rise in sales of long plays (LP) despite streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music being so much more convenient?
Well, there are a couple of reasons: campaigns such as Record Store Day, Album Day and the need to hold something physical that’s been crafted by your favourite artist.
A few of us can still remember the exhilaration of waiting for stores to open to buy an album on release day. Music for people nowadays is just a simple search on a streaming app.
However, I can distinctly remember picking up the CD of The Fame by Lady Gaga at HMV when it first came out. I shared a connection with that album. I can even remember each page of the liner notes when I think back. It felt like I shared a connection with my favourite artist. It’s like I knew more than the average listener. I was part of Gaga’s fandom whereas those who listened to her on the radio were not.
And that’s exactly what vinyl enables. It’s a connection and an experience.
People crave experiences and connections
Getting a LP is more than just physically obtaining an album. It’s about going to the store, desperately searching for the record, and feeling the satisfaction once you’ve found it. Then once you have purchased it, the excitement comes from unwrapping the plastic, looking at the cover and reading the liner notes. You get the record out carefully, stare at it in awe, put it on your vinyl player and then drop the needle to hear the first note from your favourite artist.
It’s satisfying and fulfilling. Now you will always associate your first play of this album to this experience. In the digital age where everything is so convenient, we need the journey vinyl provides us with.
As Geoff Taylor (chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry) states: “In a year when all our lives have changed, music’s power to inspire has never been more evident. The immediacy and convenience of streaming make it the go-to audio format for most of our listening, but more and more fans choose to get closer to their favourite artists and albums on vinyl”.
Days that are dedicated to music
Additionally, Record Store Day has also contributed to the rise in sales due to the releases of limited editions of records with special pressings and designs. For instance, Lady Gaga has announced she will release an exclusive gatefold sleeve edition LP of Chromatica on Record Store Day.
The #Chromatica gatefold vinyl is finally here 💝 We made two special versions, one you can only get on #RecordStoreDay on 6/12 and another available on 6/25 that you can pre-order now on my official shop. Excited for you to have these in your hands ⚔️💓 https://t.co/Q5CJYNiYkZ pic.twitter.com/orXDbpueNj
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) April 1, 2021
Again, this increases the exclusivity of the album and content you are getting from your favourite artist. It helps to separate you from millions of fans. It feels special.
Also, National Album Day is another event that has contributed to the increasing sales of vinyl because it sheds light on the importance of listening to a whole album. This is important because in the digital age where an algorithm makes recommendations based on playlists, chart information and your history, we tend to ignore the album.
We gravitate towards commercial singles instead of picking out the hidden gems that might be on track nine instead of track one. Whereas on vinyl, you just put the needle down and don’t need to think about what song is going to come on next. You sit down and listen to a whole journey.
An album is a craft and journey which vinyl enables
As a society we are instant-gratification junkies. With everything being so readily available, there is no longer a build-up of excitement. There is no longer a sense of rush as you search for your favourite album in stores. There is no tangible way of showing your love for your favourite artist.
Sure, Spotify is cheap and easy to use with millions of artists at your fingertips. But it doesn’t compare to holding the liner notes and flicking through pictures of your favourite artist as they were producing their album. We crave tangible objects of admiration. Thus, the physical music industry, particularly the record industry, will always be special.