Thursday, December 17, 2020

The mighty record comes back around

I always had faith that the lp format would come back into commercial favor. All the successor formats have their own failings abd the direct analog approach allows a broader slice of hte produced music.

This is not the first time this has happened.

I do think that the industry needs to package the traditional lp with an electronic license as well which supports both formats.  Way more important it restores the traditional retail marketing system which we know works.

It also allows the marketing of a usage time window which the lp or even the DVD naturally extends. 

The mighty record comes back around

Vinyl records

December 16, 2020

The mighty record comes back around

It’s not often that a 19th century technology makes a comeback, but that’s exactly what has happened to the phonograph record. After more than a decade of increasing sales, it’s safe to say it: Vinyl is back, baby.

Vinyl’s resurgence has come against all odds. Through streaming services, music listeners now have access to nearly all notable music recorded over the past century for just $10 a month. So why are people increasingly paying for the same music on a thin 12-inch diameter circular disk made of refined oil that can only be played on a contraption that costs at least $100?

One possibility is that many music lovers were not ready to move on from tangible forms of music. Because they commanded the longest tenure as the dominant form of physical music, records now command a strong feeling of nostalgia. Buying records is also a good way to get money directly into the hands of those who make it, since streaming pays many artists so little. And of course, there are the audiophiles who will go to their graves insisting that the hisses and pops are what make the music world go ‘round.

Whatever the reason, it appears vinyl is ready to rock on.

Let’s go for a spin.

$716 million: Global vinyl sales in 2019

15-22: Minutes of music per side on a 12-inch record played at 33 revolutions per minute

72,000: Turntables sold in the US in 2019

558,000: Vinyl sales of the Beatles’ Abbey Road in the 2010s, making it the top selling record of the decade

$2 million: Price paid by ex-pharma executive and convicted felon Martin Shkreli for the only copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s record Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

30: The number of seconds it takes to press melted vinyl into a record.

“Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music. His legacy is tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl.”


1887: Thomas Edison invents the wax cylinder phonograph based on his research with the telephone and telegraph, capturing sound through horns and then inscribing the vibrations from that sound onto material. That process is then reversed when people wanted to hear what was recorded.

1910s: Phonographs are a smash hit. Annual global record sales reach at least 50 million copies.

1930: RCA Victor launches the first record made of the synthetic plastic polyvinyl chloride, aka “vinyl,” which becomes standard during World War 2 when shellac is needed to produce explosives.

1948: The LP (long play) record is introduced by CBS. At 12 inches wide and with about 21 minutes of music per side, this record type becomes the uncontested standard.

1960s: Tape enthusiasts start switching from listening to music on cumbersome reel-to-reel players to newly minted 8-track cassettes, which could be played in some cars. Game changer.

1962: The compact cassette, what you may know as the “cassette tape,” is released by Philips, and becomes mainstream in the US by 1966.

1967: The Beatles release Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the best-selling vinyl records of all time.

1973: DJ Kool Herc, the “father of hip-hop,” mixes two identical records together to prolong the best parts of a song.

1979: The compact disc is invented, though it won’t start rolling out to the public until 1982. CDs are easier to store than vinyl, sound better than tapes, and provide an easy way to skip to your favorite track.

1983: Vinyl accounts for over half of US music sales.

1990: Vinyl accounts for just over 1% of US music sales.

2007: The vinyl revival begins in earnest. For the first time in the 21st century, global vinyl sales increase from the previous year from $36 million in 2006 to $53 million in 2007.

What was the number one vinyl album the week of Dec. 5, 2020 according to Billboard?
Taylor Swift’s FolkloreQueen’s Greatest HitsPearl Jam’s TenHarry Styles’ Fine Line
If your inbox doesn’t support this quiz, find the solution at bottom of email.

Covid-19 couldn’t stop vinyl’s resurgence

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation didn’t look good for the record industry. As a physical commodity, it seemed to be under more threat than its streaming counterpart. Record manufacturing plants were forced to shut down and many record stores across the globe were mandated to close due to lockdown measures. The industry also faced increasing shipping costs and a lack of live concerts at which to sell merchandise. Amazon stopped shipping vinyl records from late March through mid-April in order to prioritize products they deemed more essential.

Through mid-March, data from Nielsen Music showed vinyl sales up over 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. But from March 20-26, soon after the US government advised Americans to avoid group gatherings, only 180,000 records were sold in the US, down from over 300,000 the previous year. For the next four weeks, sales would stay well below where they were in 2019.

But the demand for vinyl proved resilient. By late April, most manufacturers were up and running and vinyl sales started to gain speed. Despite Covid-19, through mid-August, 11.5 million vinyl records were sold in 2020, compared to 9.9 million over that period in 2019, a 17% jump. In August, sales nearly doubled last year’s number. Although many stores remain closed, online sales are booming, with increased purchases on online marketplaces like Discogs and Bandcamp.

How the the record gets its grooves

In this video, Tony van Veen, the CEO of vinyl production company Disc Makers walks you through the modern vinyl-making process. It’s a reminder that vinyl records may be cool, but are not the most environmentally friendly product.

Does vinyl actually sound better?

Many audiophiles argue that vinyl records offer better sound than any other form of recorded music commonly available. “Better” isn’t an entirely accurate description, but listening to your favorite album on vinyl certainly introduces you to a different audio experience.

Since vinyl records are analog rather than digital they are “lossless,” which means that they contain exactly what was recorded in the studio rather than a version that has been compressed to fit on a CD or to efficiently stream. This is great for your listeners if your album involves live instruments and hangs out in the middle of the sound frequency, rather than the higher and lower ends. Records emphasize middle frequency sound, which creates the “warm” feeling many people associate with vinyl.

But if an album involves a lot of electronic production and involves very high pitches or low pitches—like modern electronic dance music—vinyl isn’t the best. Hi-hats and deep bass can throw off the record player’s needle. For this kind of music, you’re better off listening to a high-quality digital recording. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Better on digital

Yes, we know this is an email about vinyl records, but you’re on a digital device right now. And there are some tracks that do sound better on digital. Here are some recommendations worth dragging out the good headphones for.Get digital!


Do you currently own music on vinyl?

I collect. Hisses and pops are superior.No, I am the proud owner of a streaming subscription.Just a few old ones for nostalgia reasons.

In last week’s poll about Japanese whisky, 32% of you said you preferred Scotch, with Southern bourbon in second place, and Irish whiskey dead last. Your move, Jameson!

Today’s email was written by Dan Kopf, whose favorite vinyl album is Eternity by Alice Coltrane, edited by Susan Howson, whose favorite vinyl album is Let’s Stay Together by Al Green, and Jordan Weinstock, whose favorite vinyl album is Live in San Francisco by the Ty Segall Band.

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