Rolling Stone’s latest issue features an article about the “comeback” of vinyl. I put comeback in quotes because, as the writer, David Browne, states, it’s still not much more than a niche market. However, the fact that sales of LPs are up in any shape or form is interesting.
As TWICE’s Joseph Palenchar reported in April, “Vinyl’s dollar sales (albums and singles combined) were up a modest 5 percent after having fallen every year from 2001 through 2005 … Despite their 2007 gain, vinyl albums’ unit volume was only 0.3 percent of that of CD albums’ 511.1 unit volume.”
And Browne notes that it’s not likely to last:
“And thanks to higher fuel prices (oil is used to manufacture plastic vinyl, and LPs are shipped by truck) and the scarcity of pressing plants, an LP can cost as much as $4.50 per unit to manufacture, compared to roughly a dollar for a CD. ‘There are still reasons not to do vinyl,’ says Mac McCaughan of Merge Records, which has seen an increase in sales of vinyl releases by Arcade Fire and Spoon. ‘It’s more expensive, it’s more complicated, it takes longer. We try not to lose money, but we probably are.’ ”
Any uptick in vinyl sales clearly won’t be the music industry’s knight in shining armor, but it will be fascinating to see how long the format will kick around. We had a record player in my home growing up, but the last record I remember my parents buying was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” My father still has his collection in storage, and I’m tempted to purchase a turntable just so I can immediately expand my music collection.
Of course, I’ll have to be sure to buy a turntable with a USB port so I can transform the music into MP3s.