Over £3.2million records were sold last year, perhaps the new vinyl age has arrived.
The door opens to a record store in Boscombe, revealing a miniature world, a world of dusty vinyl sleeves, crackling guitar chimes and the 1980’s generation exploring shelves of records. Vinyl is very much associated with days gone by, but seems now that everyone is boarding the vinyl vehicle. A vinyl store seems to be as much of an experience as listening to the vinyl itself. The inside album sleeves boast detailed photos of bands we all know and love, tatty old boxes are crammed to the seems with black, shiny discs, and all of these records are overlooked by large, rustic posters of Prince, Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley. Overlooking the “rock/psychedelic” record shelf is a black and white poster of The Beatles, it’s as if the eyes of Paul McCartney himself are watching you sift through The Beatles’ back-catalogue.
Music goes around in cycles, and vinyl has come full-circle.”
One person in this record store is Chris Rose, 33, he’s behind the desk answering calls. Being an avid vinyl collector himself, Chris wanted to set up his own business to facilitate his passion for record collecting. He has been operating his record store in Boscombe for six years now. “We are getting a good cross-section of people from fifteen to people in their sixties who are wanting to buy records,” said Chris, “but I see more younger people buying records now.” Of course, it could be argued that adults buy vinyls for nostalgia. But why are teenagers tapping into it? Chris reckons it’s the “warmth, touch and feel” of
a record that plays a part, “it’s the sound quality and visual appeal that people like about vinyl, you can’t get that with a download.” An avid vinyl collector, Matt Freeman, 26, from Sandhurst, said vinyl is an “immersive” listening experience, “you have to listen to the album in full, vinyl slows the whole process down.”
December last year saw vinyl sales overtake digital downloads, with vinyl making a whopping £2.4 million, compared to £2.1million in digital sales. This does not seem like a random coincidence either. Vinyl sales in 2016 were up 53% from the previous year. One thing is clear, not only has vinyl resurged, but the resurgence is happening fast.
It’s now not just a tiny specialist store that sells a Led Zeppelin vinyl, so too does HMV, vintage clothes stores and even supermarkets. Whilst another phone call rings behind the desk, and whilst a door-bell chimes to signal another eager customer, Chris Rose points out that music is like fashion, “it goes around in cycles, and vinyl has come full-circle.” This raises an interesting point, may this be the new vinyl age?
Take a look at Bruno Mars and The Rolling Stones. Bruno Mars released a 90’s looking and sounding third album (‘24k Magic’) in 2016. The 90’s sound clearly resonated, reaching second on the Billboard Top 200. Also, over 200,000 fans flooded to stadiums to see Mick Jagger’s moves in the The Stones’ 2013 reunion tour; they’re still rocking today! Retro-esque music is selling like hot cakes, and is still relevant. The past is meeting the present. New artists are being inspired by music of the past, and these inspired artists are finding their way into the grooves of records.
One of the UK’s leading vinyl manufacturers is Key Production. Key Production Account Manager, Jack Stephenson, 29, said “There’s been a rise in vintage fashion, which has lead to the vinyl craze. I’ve worked here for four years, and record production has gone up and up; there’s a massive appetite for vinyl.” Matt Freeman reckons vinyl “will definitely grow in popularity; my girlfriend was never interested in records, but is now!”
As the store closing time approaches, a man in a Metallica shirt takes a quick last look at the band merchandise shelf. The stats don’t lie, vinyl sales are expecting to make a 55% annual growth rate between now and 2020, so the dawn of a new vinyl age may well be upon us. The man leaves the store, but does not shut the door behind him, it seems that the door to the world of vinyl will remain ajar for quite some time.