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Are vinyl records making a comeback?

Image by chiến nguyễn bá from Pixabay

This past Saturday we celebrated Record Store Day. Record Store Day was created back in 2007. the whole purpose of this day is to celebrate independent record stores and the music they sell. I love this day and go and support my local record shops every year. My record collection is not vast, but I love having physical copies of some of my favorite albums. This year, however, I was intrigued to see if this was just a celebratory day for music or if there was real substance behind it. I wanted to see if the consumption of our favorite albums on vinyl is here for the long run or if is it just another fad that will eventually disappear. Here at the Circular, we investigate this popular trend.

With the advent of streaming services, many people have disregarded the physical purchase and use of owning their music collection instead for a more convenient way of listening through the likes of Spotify Apple, and Amazon Music. However, lately, there has been a longing to own a music collection independently from these platforms. This can be suggested to be started in the mid-2010s when young people identified by the media as Hipsters. Hipsters began romanticizing certain sections of the past, including music. Skip forward to the 2020s; this trend is believed to have affected mainstream society. Mainstream pop artist Taylor Swift would be the embodiment of this trend. Taylor Swift is probably the most popular modern artist of our time. One in every fifteen vinyl albums sold last year was a Taylor Swift album, this figure can’t be matched and truly signifies a new era in music history.

In music history, we have seen numerous musical revivals. Some revivals include the likes of The Blues rebirth of the 1980s and the Garage Rock comeback of the early 2000s. These scenes emulated music of the past to create sounds of the future. But Perhaps the biggest musical revival of them all has been the resurgence of Vinyl records. According to the BBC Vinyl has yet again become the best-selling physical form of recorded music today. Vinyl has been selling so well that In the UK it has remade the list for the National Office of Statistics this government body looks at the consumption of goods to measure pricing and inflation. Vinyl being added back as a tool to measure economics signifies the mass change in music purchasing in the last 20 years. When The vinyl record started to become obsolete by the late 1980s with the growing popularity of updated technology like Tape decks and CDS who would have known the comeback this platform would have? Be that as it may, vinyl was always the technology most synonymous with the peak of popular music. Speed forward to 2024 and it is believed that 49 million vinyl records were sold last year, so how has vinyl, this old clunky technology become so popular again?

it can be suggested that there is not just one reason for the growing popularity of vinyl. The heavy focus on marketing and the use of nostalgia in popular culture has continued to be used in many areas of entertainment. Nostalgia-based content can be seen in remakes of hit movies and television, this tactic does not stop in the music industry. Advertisers have become very successful at repacking the past and selling it to consumers at a profit. Numerous companies have tried to communicate through different advertising avenues when selling vinyl. Their focus is on the individual, and their message is to make the consumer feel that owning and displaying their music collection is a perfect way of showing the world their identity. In an era of social media, this tactic has increased vinyl sales. By attending record store day in Tower Records this past Saturday I saw many different music fans coming into Dublin city center to celebrate this day. I have noticed that Vinyl has started to become a quirky tool for showcasing your music taste. Owning a vinyl collection can suggest that you appreciate previous musical eras. Creating this us versus them split is the perfect foil to keep vinyl records cool and edgy. All these methods that have been used can be a suggestion on why vinyl sales have increased yearly.

Looking at the statistics below of vinyl sales I focused on the USA. The USA has a vast pool of people that can easily help me understand if this resurgence is a fad or if is it starting to build traction in the mainstream. By analysing the data I was astonished to see how the last couple of years have been. According to the website Statista, a website solely focused on analyzing different markets. Vinyl Sales in the USA have grown every year, currently, sales are at their highest point in the last 18 years with a growth of 40%. Last year a total of 49.6 million units were sold. This continued growth can not be underestimated as 2023 sales have increased by 14 percent from 2022. If you look at the graph below it shows the journey vinyl has had over the last 20 years to get us to this point.

Green Social Media Report Infographic Graph by Michael MacNamee

I believe the vinyl rebirth is here to stay in some capacity. Vinyl will continue to accompany streaming as a duo. I believe the platform will continue to work as a combination between the two technologies, but will it overtake the likes of Spotify? I doubt it. However, I don’t think its purpose is to overtake streaming. Vinyl can have a place alongside streaming, The platform can offer music fans an alternative that streaming cannot. by analyzing the data it cannot be argued that Vinyl is here for the long term as sales continue to grow. My recommendation is to dust off your sound systems get into your local record shops and enjoy adding some of your favorite albums to your record collections.

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