You know vinyl is making an impact and going mainstream when companies like Sony returns to vinyl, who amongst many others, have been out of the vinyl pressing and cutting business for years. Seeing the light, Sony returns to the business of vinyl.
So why twenty-eight years ago in 1989 did Sony stop pressing vinyl only to return to the business by March 2018?
The demand for vinyl started to fade out almost immediately after the CD was introduced. The demand for CDs grew rapidly due to their convenience and continuing improvement in sound quality when compared to vinyl. No longer did you have to have a large, inconvenient turntable and have to leave your chair every time you wanted to change tracks. So in spite of the CDs convenience and the rise of the digital age with the introduction of MP3 and digital downloads, etc, ‘vinyl hung in there’.
Since the introduction of these digital technologies sales of CDs have been declining, whereas sales of vinyl have increased at an exponential rate over the past few years, exceeding $400 million in 2015. In the UK, I understand, the recent sales of vinyl actually exceeded those of CDs for a short time.
It is unlikely that this resurgence of vinyl popularity is going to make vast sums of money for the larger music labels. Nevertheless, due to the relatively high prices of vinyl albums, when compared to CDs, the margins on their sales are high, attracting large companies interest in vinyl’s growth.
‘ Oldies” and die hard audiophiles, like myself, never gave up vinyl and now the next generation of hipsters in the twenties and thirties are warming to its sound and the emotional and visceral impact of placing that needle on the vinyl and being amazed by the sound quality that emerges for such a tactile system.
So despite that snap, crackle and pop vinyl really is here to stay and with modern cutting and pressing techniques coupled with high quality virgin vinyl, the silence of vinyl is now golden. Banished are those noisy pressings of yesterday with the availability of direct to disc (D2D), 180+ gram pressings together with the time and care taken over the pressing process.
Clearly vinyl is no longer that niche product. Lets hope that there are still enough well trained cutting and pressing engineers out there to keep the currently available vinyl standards where they are, and not plummet into those mass produced records of yesteryear.
I just hope that those niche record labels, cutting and pressing facilities that have continued to support all us die hard fans with outstanding quality products and very inventive methods of improving the cutting and pressing processes do not get squeezed out by the corporate giants flooding the market with ‘crap’!