The digital future has a heart for vinyl

Newtonian physics has a rule – for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, and the rule stays the same in download culture, which is slowly generating a resurgence in vinyl.

We glanced at this last month when it was revealed that for at least one small record shop, vinyl sales climbed 70 per cent year-on-year.

Read between the lines of just about any of the quarterly sales figures from the large music industry associations and you’ll see a little blip in vinyl sales – and this hasn’t gone unnoticed, prompting the Wall Street Journal to take a look at the trend.

What’s driving this? Potentially the desire for a format that – if treated properly – is longer-lasting than a CD and offers higher quality than digital music (or CD, for that matter)…

“There has been a resurgence of vinyl among people who believe that with CDs and downloads the sound quality is not there,” says IFPI’s Francine Cunningham.

Mike Allen, a music-industry consultant and former vice president of international marketing for record company EMI Group thinks its that Newtonian reaction kicking in: “There’s a reaction against the commoditization of music that downloading represents…With vinyl there’s something that has innate value — a physical object,” he said.

Like Radiohead with the band’s ‘In Rainbows’ boxed set (which I bought), some artists have begun to reward fans who buy their vinyl with free downloads of the tracks as well – a smart move, giving customers a highly collectible music product which they can keep while enjoying the convenience of listening to their music on an iPod (and the security of knowing an iTunes crash won’t munch their music).

Amazon’s U.S. and U.K. sites have beefed up their vinyl sections in response to increasing demand (recent top sellers include the new Metallica and classics like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”).

So here we are at the perfect example of Newtonian physics – we both want our music convenient and digital, and turn to vinyl for the feeling of closeness to an artist and ownership of a physical product we can cherish.

No one ever really felt that way about CDs. The whole changing pattern suggests the next step is codes for free music downloads in high-bitrate DRM-free formats to be given away with every vinyl record sold.

Via: Wall Street Journal

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One thought on “The digital future has a heart for vinyl

  1. E.J.

    I like the idea of a well designed physical product, but I wish the digital downloads would all be like NIN’s ‘The Slip’. Vinyl can’t sound better than the actual capture format, and it’s only a brief matter of time before every media player can handle them.

    Once you hear a 24bit 96kHz or higher WAV you won’t miss any petroleum based media.

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