Music industry sees a continuing vinyl revival
By Hal Bundrick
CD sales and music downloads are on the decline, while subscription streaming services like Pandora and Spotify give hope to the battered music industry. However, there is still a growing subset of audiophiles, hipsters and anything-vintage aficionados that prefer their tunes etched in wax. Vinyl record sales were up again last year, by 32% to six million units, according to SoundScan. While still just a sliver of the industry, accounting for just 2% of total album sales in the U.S., it’s not bad for a technology that was outmoded some 25 years ago.
Lines formed outside of record stores this past weekend as the seventh annual Record Store Day drew crowds seeking to get their hands on some of the 450 new vinyl releases in honor of the event. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and the event is now celebrated annually on the third Saturday of every April.
The official website defines a participating record store as “a stand-alone brick and mortar retailer whose main primary business focuses on a physical store location, whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation.”
The description adds, “In other words, we’re dealing with real, live, physical, indie record stores — not online retailers or corporate behemoths.”
Gone are the Tower Records, Peaches Records and Tapes, and Musiclands of the nation – even the recent sudden closure of longtime record and computer retailer J&R Music and Computer World in Manhattan adds another name to the long list of the industry’s vanishing landmarks. But indie stores like Rough Trade and Permanent Records in Brooklyn saw steady crowds for the Record Day Store event – at times even with lines out the door — while in Nashville, musician Jack White debuted the “world’s fastest-released record” — recorded, pressed and released in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 21 seconds.
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