The humble vinyl was once the only way people could listen to their music. Over the last few decades, with the introduction of CDs and more recently streaming services such as Spotify, the traditional vinyl record was slowly becoming a thing of the past. But a recent surge in vinyl sales has given this part of the music industry new life.
According to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), the sales of vinyl albums were 70% higher in 2016 than in 2015. Sales then continued to increase by another 20% in 2017. Last year there was a total of 786,735 vinyl albums sold, making the vinyl music industry worth over $18 million annually.
This major increase in sales has lead to musicians making the choice to sell their albums on vinyl and some have even begun recording their music straight to vinyl. Popular band the Arctic Monkeys’ most recent album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ was confirmed by the Official Charts Company as being the fastest selling vinyl album in the last 25 years, selling 24,500 albums.
Not only has this resurgence effected musicians, but new record stores are continuing to open up across the country. Captain Stomp Records, previously just an online store, recently opened a physical shop in the small town of Ferntree Gully. Owner, David Thompson, says it was always their plan to open a physical shop. “In 2016, we set up an online store whilst searching for a suitable premises located near public transport,” he said.
“The vinyl record is such a beautiful product, that we feel is best showcased in a physical environment.”
Thompson said that the ARIA statistics don’t lie. “The general industry sales of vinyl LPs have been the fastest growing segment of the physical music market now for the past couple of years.” However Thompson says it’s hard to comment on the overall sales of vinyls purely from his own experience, having only opened a physical store around a month ago.
Thompson says young people’s interest in vinyls is responsible for the increase in sales. “I believe the popularity of vinyl is being driven by these people appreciating the analogue sound and the physical connection you get with playing an album, from putting it on the turntable, turning it over and then enjoying the full size album artwork. Coloured vinyl and limited pressings with special artwork also add to the attractiveness and collectability of the product.”
The question on many people’s minds is, what is it about the vinyl that is of such interest to these young music listeners? Twenty-one year old vinyl collector, Malcolm Walker, says it comes down to the full music experience. “It forces you to collect and build a musical library based on your individual musical taste, without the ease of just adding it to a playlist. At the end of the day, digital will always sound better but there’s nothing like that crackle [of a vinyl] before you’re about to listen to your favourite album.”
Thompson agrees and believes it comes down to that sound quality. “Even some old recordings made in the 1950’s sound like the musicians are playing live in your living room on playback on vinyl. Digital can’t give you that same warm sound, with the odd pop and crackle thrown in for character.
“The decision on which album to play, rather than leaving it to a random selection on a digital service also makes the experience special with vinyl.”