All the growth in music sales right now is about digital, right? And ringtones, new business models and the rest, OK? No. Not right. See, there’s a quietly bubbling third strand to industry growth, and it’s found in the increasing popularity of vinyl.
“There’s a huge resurgence in vinyl,” Mike Dreese, CEO of the Newbury Comics chain said. “We sold 600 to 800 in the last two months.” Dreese added that the company expects this year to yield vinyl sales of $1.5 million, up 70% from last year. In June, Newbury the company admitted monthly vinyl revenues of approximately $100,000.
Who is buying it? Well, we suspect older music fans, DJs, audiophiles and people who have grown more serious about their music and want a permanent format with all the emotional connectedness vinyl offers a fan. We suspect it could be part of an undercurrent against controlled online access to music as a result of the labels efforts online – these efforts have made the whole online industry look a little like a compromise, meaning ultimately music fans may reject major label releases, preferring the diversity of the independent labels when they buy their favourite tracks – on vinyl. But that’s pure and utter speculation, and I reckon readers will have their own opinion.
What we think will change this game back in favour of online services (which do dominate and are the growth story) is introduction of lossless music downloads, which, as Toby Marks said, are services that are completely possible to run online right now. If we can download films, we can surely download vinyl-quality digital music.
As recession bites, consumers will be less likely to buy music, meaning audiophiles, collectors, hardcore music fans and powerful, original releases will be the engine for music sales across the next few years. Penny-conscious consumers will be more likely to purchase groceries than invest in the new Crazy Frog ringtone, basically. So the impetus for introduction of new high-quality music download services is emerging now.