Vinyl is dead!
At least that’s what every music fan, artist and producer was told in 1982 (and every year since), upon the release of a pioneering new technology known as the compact disc.
For a long time, they were right: sales of records declined steadily after '82 as their smaller, shinier cousin moved in on the home music market. Vinyl, it seemed, was not long for this world. The same scrap-heap that held the gramophone, Betamax and the transistor radio beckoned.
But then, years later, something happened. Whether through efforts made by musical purists, initiatives such as Record Store Day or the cachet of vinyl in the nostalgia (or even hipster) stakes, the sales tide began to turn once more.
And with the news that vinyl album sales are due to hit the one million mark by the end of the year (the highest since 1996), it seems the record has been formally resurrected.
Why? Allow the individuals, whose faith in vinyl has never skipped a beat, to explain.
Gennaro Castaldo, Spokesperson for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI)
“It’s funny that sales of LPs are still dwarfed by digital music and even CDs, and yet we Brits seem to have an enduring love affair with vinyl that helps to keep it in the spotlight.
“I think it’s because vinyl seems to symbolise the very heart and soul of music, and is part of rock-and-roll culture going back to Elvis and the Beatles.
“Artists, particularly rock bands, have picked up on this too, and often love the idea of releasing their music on vinyl alongside other formats. It’s as if releasing on vinyl has become a badge of honour, that says you have properly arrived as a recording artist.
“The day may come when the CD is no more, but is outlasted by the vinyl format it was meant to supersede. That’s because the LP, unlike the CD, is not just about functionality but is seen by some people as the ultimate expression of the recoded art-form, and how music should sound.”
Elion Paz, photographer/author of Dust & Grooves – Adventures in Record Collecting
“We as human beings have lost contact with the real world. We got over saturated with the devices, apps and online services that all have one goal – to make our life easier.
“But now that our life is easier, we find out we are lonelier, secluded and without a sense of community, so I think vinyl fills in a few holes in our life.
“First, it’s proper shopping, and who doesn’t like to buy and get stuff? We are all consumers and stuff fills a void in our life, it’s the essence of the capitalistic society. Beyond that, luckily we have the real essence of vinyl, and it’s the music.
“Art, soul, emotions, visual art, photography, illustration – vinyl is a container to all of these wonderful things. It’s really hard to get that full experience with a digital file.”
Keb Darge, DJ
“I can’t let [vinyl] die, because I’d be f-----. I can barely remember titles and artists now, but I always remember what the label looks like when I’m looking for a particular tune.
“I also prefer the sound of vinyl, it does sound much warmer to me. I could never play digital music, I hate it all – empty soulless muck. Plus, if a record skips I can apply just the right amount of pressure to the needle to get past it. I can do nothing if a laptop freezes or a CD skips.
[Back then] it was all about new discoveries, and original vinyl was the only way to get new discoveries. I have also had PCs die on me, and files f--- up. Records may get the odd scratch, but it’s pretty hard to make them unplayable.”
Kim Bayley, spokesperson for Record Store Day
“More than anything, [the revival of vinyl] is a reminder to the industry and the media that they are sometimes too quick to write things off.
“The record business jumped into the CD business and abandoned vinyl when there was still clearly demand – it was only after a sustained campaign from retailers, via Record Store Day, that they started making vinyl LPs available in the numbers we’re now seeing and this has seen the market grow.
“Is there a sense of romance and nostalgia to vinyl? Definitely. As we live in an increasingly digital world, many hanker after something more tangible and unique.”
David Coupland, writer/record collector
“I wasn’t born when records were popular the first time round, but for as long as I can remember my dad had a large vinyl collection. He would always say how the quality of the music was better on vinyl than cassette or CD.
“The whole sensory experience of the vinyl is special. The romance of removing the vinyl carefully from the sleeve, unsure of which bits you could touch, the crackling sound when it connects to the needle.
“I’d play Frisbee with my favourite CD, yet wouldn’t dream of leaving a vinyl outside its sleeve. The care taken over a vinyl allows for a relationship to develop with the music beyond what you can hear – far better than pressing the eject button on a CD player.”
Ashli Todd, owner of Spillers (the oldest record shop in the world), Cardiff
“Most record shops worth their salt never gave up on vinyl, even when the industry and the media proclaimed the format dead with the arrival of the CD.
“Ditto the labels – mainly indie – that kept pressing vinyl. Those who never stopped holding the format in high esteem were well poised to react to the increases in demand over the last 18 years.
“I’ve given up counting how many times HMV have stopped and then restarted stocking vinyl over the last 10 years!”
The Telegraph - 30-10-2014