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The Viability of Vinyl Records in Today's Marketplace by Andrew Stratton





The Viability of Vinyl Records in Today's Marketplace by
Article Posted: 06/01/2015
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The Viability of Vinyl Records in Today's Marketplace


 
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The past decade has yielded some very interesting technological innovations and trends in sales in the record industry. Yet, it seems that vinyl has reclaimed its throne as the preferred medium of independent artists and labels. While this holds true in a sense, the actual numbers behind sales tell a very different story. Vinyl sales have risen from 3.9 million in 2011 to 9.2 million at the end of 2014 in the Unites States alone. Though there has been a demonstrative increase in sales, it is unlikely that it will make a dent in the ever-growing digital marketplace.

Half of all albums purchased are physical medium (cassette, compact disc, or vinyl). Of that half, well over eighty percent of those albums are purchased on CD. Vinyl record sales are nearer to three percent of that half. The other half is comprised of digital purchases. The battle is on between digital purchases and purchase of CDs. Compact discs are sold exponentially more than vinyl records, but that trend is changing, again, but only in a limited fashion. Spoiler Alert: that volumetric disparity between CDs and vinyl records will never change. Such was the gestalt behind the advent of the compact disc some forty years ago: mass production. The manufacturing of vinyl records will likely never take the main stage again.

Where we're at with the reality of a resurgence of vinyl sales boils down to the number of plants pressing records and the number of presses at these respective plants. There are few record pressing plants left. Hence, the wait for new releases to be pressed can be months. The manufacture of vinyl records and the quality control are processes that cannot be sped up, and the number of working presses is limited. There is no real discussion on whether or not the costly investment will be made to produce more presses. Few plants have the resources to increase their number of presses, and by and large, the money isn't there to do so.

As opposed to cassette decks, CD players are still fairly ubiquitous. It sounds strange, but 2010 was the last year that a new automobile was made that had a tape player in it.To get a proper forecast on how quickly even CDs are disappearing though, one need not look any further than the auto industry. Fewer and fewer cars are being produced which include cd players in their consoles. The gaming industry as well has even made the leap from disc-based products to streaming and online resources. The atmosphere of media distribution is falling into a new groove in its medium-specific parameters. That said, one thing is certain, vinyl has its place in the hearts and collections of fans worldwide as an nostalgic format.

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