Those of my generation were born at a time when the CD dominated the music scene. Furniture full of discs next to huge and bulky devices that reproduced them. And large speakers scattered around the room. The CDs were in the shops and also in street stalls. Pirate CDs that allowed you to listen the new album of your favorite artist before anyone else.
But everything comes back, and it is always said that fashions also always come back. Just as skinny jeans came back and now wide-legs are on the rise again, vinyl also came back to life as if by magic. But is it honest to qualify this movement as fashion?
Why has vinyl come back, if streaming is at its peak and CDs have better quality? What is the reason why vinyl has revived the music industry? Why do the new generations, who weren’t born when vinyl disappeared, buy their music in this format? Why are they at the top of the sales list? What is this phenomenon due to?
According to the music industry, the current turnover of vinyl records is almost identical to what it was in the 1980s, accounting for a third of physical music purchases. And at present, you can find them for sale in supermarkets, specialized stores, collector fairs or through the Internet.
According to the Otrano portal, the 5 best-selling vinyl records in history are in this order: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, AC/DC’s Back in Black, The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Back to Black by Amy Winehouse.
Despite nowadays we can listen any song where and when we want to with a technological device, to buy physical samples of the albums which hooks you has a certain charm. This is due to be able to have something physical, a real object you can touch and manage. As a kind of fetishism. There must be some truth in this resurrection of vinyl when artists are again releasing their records on this format that seemed to be extinct.
There are even DJs who continue to work with this classic format, as we can see in this video of a session mixing music for half an hour only with vinyl.
To get a first-hand look at the current vinyl situation, we went to Crow Street, in the centre of Dublin, to talk to Ronan, the manager of The R.A.G.E. shop, which is specialised in the sale of second-hand vinyl.
Question: What is so special about vinyl music?
Answer: Well, I think that if you are very interested in music, and there is any album you were very passionate about when you were 12 years old, the first time you see it in record its going to be a pretty big moment, just because the vinyl record is so big and it looks so much cooler.
I suppose its just a physical engagement in terms of putting the needle down and taking everything out of the sleeve and you must be very careful. It’s a much closer interaction than playing a Spotify playlist.
Q: Are there musical genres that identify with vinyl more than others?
A: You know, certain jazz records really belong to vinyl, just because the sound quality of when they were recorded, back in the days, was so good. And then, staff like reggae. If you are a reggae DJ, the only way you can come across with tunes its by digging through records, that music is not on the internet. So, if you are really interested in deep reggae you have to be interested in vinyl.
That’s why I do believe that there are certain musical genres more associated with vinyl.
Q: How has affected the appearance of digital music platforms like Spotify or Apple Music to this kind of business?
A: Record shops, in particular, I actually I’m not sure that this kind of digital platforms have a huge impact, just because, people who are into records are like pretty into records. Its not a throw away thing, its not like people is trying to get the most convenient thing, its like the least convenient thing, so I don’t think personally that Spotify have a huge effect.
People still love records, and people are still producing more records than ever. When you play a song in Spotify, they pay the artist like a third part of a cent and you need to listen to the song a hundred times to pay them 3 cents. While if you decide to buy a vinyl record, that its maybe 23€, you know that no matter the royalty brand behind the track, the artist it’s going to get at least 6€, and you pay that straight away, and that’s it.
So yeah, I think people still like going out and buy vinyl records because they know that these platforms are not paying these artists what they deserve. I guess the bigger Spotify gets, people will push up vinyl records because they know they have to support these artists.