Back to the future: Is vinyl coming back?
By Louis Parker
They’re bulky, easy to scratch and take up a huge amount of space compared to a Spotify playlist. So why are vinyl record sales higher than they have been for three decades?
New statistics by British Phonographic Industry (BPI) have shown that there was a 10% increase in vinyl record sales in 2020 than the previous year - a whopping 4.8 million to be exact. That’s the highest number in 30 years.
The figures also showed that almost one in five (or 18%) of all albums purchased across 2020 were vinyl. But with the growing popularity of streaming services and technological advances, why are sales of vinyl increasing at such a rate?
Number of Vinyl records sold in the US from 1993-2019 Credit: Statista
Yaron Ash has been working at one of Brighton’s most popular independent record shops, Resident Records for around three months. He says that over this time he has seen a significant increase in sales of records from the shop.
“An increase is a massive understatement… it’s been mental!” Says Ash, “When the pandemic first started on the mail order side of things they had one person working, we now have a team of eight sending out about 300 parcels a day and I think we sold something like 1500 records last week.
“People have more disposable income and we have quite a specific demographic which is 35 upwards and even into the 40s who are spending a ridiculous amount on vinyl. The indie records specifically have been pushing indie ‘editions’ of records… You give someone the same record on blue vinyl or on black vinyl and suddenly the blue vinyl sells as much as 3 times as a black version would ever have sold.”
Resident Records, Brighton Credit: Google
He says that the 10% growth is also partially down to the lack of ownership people have with music nowadays.
“With streaming services taking a grasp on the majority of the market, people are really gunning for something to own. They can say ‘this record is now mine, this music is now mine to own’ rather than when you stop paying for Spotify and you lose it all.”
Louis Parker speaks to Yaron Ash of Resident Records
As well as at home listeners, DJs have begun to move back towards vinyl records from the standard USB or electronic players. Michalis APK, 28, is a London DJ who goes by the alias ‘Minion’ who has been mixing vinyl for around 10 years now.
“I play vinyl because I love the unpredictability and rawness that it provides,” he says, “rather than just downloading a track and hitting play, I have researched the track, bought it and added it to my collection. Plus no matter what people say it definitely sounds much better!'”
Let us know what you think by entering the survey below, is vinyl just a fad, or is it coming back?