VINYL: THE NEW BILLION DOLLAR MUSIC BUSINESS

Vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2018, with sales nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time this millennium. This impressive milestone has been untouched since the peak of the industry in the 1980s. While explosive by today’s standards, according to Deloitte, in its heyday (‘81), total vinyl album sales surpassed 1 billion units in just that year alone.

The record industry’s hunters and gatherers have been busy collecting. According to Deloitte, new vinyl records and revenue will enjoy a seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth in 2017. But the slice of the pie is still a very small one – with broader music industry revenues projected to be approximately $15 billion this year, vinyl will account for only 6%.

I spoke with Toddrick Spalding, the Director of Music at the trailer production agency Mob Scene – a music expert by trade, and avid record collector in Los Angeles. At 37 years old, Spalding listens to vinyl daily. His “modest” collection is a very highly-curated mix of 2,000 albums, both old and new. Other collectors have over 10,000 albums, completing discographies and aggregating every album from a specific record label, so he feels his is relatively small. Anytime he travels somewhere new, Spalding takes a dedicated day to find the record store and add to his collection.

For Spalding, there are countless reasons why vinyl is superior to any other music listening format, but above all comes the fidelity, romanticism and ritualistic nature of the experience. “Listening to vinyl is a physical act – it’s an active choice to go to the rack and pull out a record from the sleeve and then eventually flip the side to continue listening. It physically forces you to interact, contrary to telling Alexa to play a playlist on Spotify.”

Many of today’s consumers just want to own something that they can hold in their hands. The 12 x 12 artwork is another massive draw. Spalding continues, “You can go into a record store, buy the first Velvet Underground record and bring home a Warhol!”

Will future generations care for vinyl? Spalding’s 7-year-old son, Salinger, may be a great indicator for continued growth. He has his own record player and collection. It’s easy to purchase a record player today, so the barrier of entry isn’t a big one.

Salinger Spalding and a David Bowie “Rebel Rebel” 45 (Courtesy of Toddrick Spalding)

There are also growing subscription-model businesses like Vinyl Me, Please, which delivers a new special edition vinyl album to your door every month. Another modernization on the classic industry is the annual Record Store Day (April 22 this year), which is hosted by local record labels and record stores across the country to celebrate and sell vinyl.

For those looking forward to perusing a record store, finding what they want, unwrapping the plastic, taking a dedicated moment to listen to music, reading the “Thank You” section and admiring the artwork, vinyl provides an unmatched and intimate experience. Despite the sustaining massive CD sales in Japan, I don’t believe cassettes and CDs carry the same sentimental weight. Vinyl records offer a nostalgic listening journey for every generation, whether it was previously a favorite pastime, or a time capsule for those discovering it for the first time.

It may not be a coincidence that the vinyl resurgence in 2008 coincides with the launch of Spotify. In many ways, vinyl is like the print industry. As streaming continues to grow (and change), there will always be a market for the powerful emotional impact of something tangible, especially with a nostalgic tie.

About

VINYLBASE is a technology based application, that using the audio fingerprint of specific vinyl records to access a blockchain supported social network that can only be accessed while playing records.

Users can chat,  share images and  unlock additional content via the app only while the record is playing.

History

phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English, or record) is an analog soundstorage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac; starting in the 1950s polyvinyl chloride became common. In recent decades, records have sometimes been called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.

The phonograph disc record was the primary medium used for music reproduction until late in the 20th century. It had co-existed with the phonograph cylinder from the late 1880s and had effectively superseded it by around 1912. Records retained the largest market share even when new formats such as the compact cassette were mass-marketed. By the late 1980s, digital media, in the form of the compact disc, had gained a larger market share, and the vinyl record left the mainstream around 1991.[1] From the 1990s to the 2010s, records continued to be manufactured and sold on a much smaller scale, and were especially used by disc jockeys (DJs) and released by artists in mostly dance music genres, and listened to by a niche market of audiophiles. The phonograph record has made a notable niche resurgence in the early 21st century – 9.2 million records were sold in the U.S. in 2014, a 260% increase since 2009.[2] Likewise, in the UK sales have increased five-fold from 2009 to 2014.[3]

As of 2017, 48 record pressing facilities remain worldwide, 18 in the United States and 30 in other countries. The increased popularity of vinyl has led to the investment in new and modern record-pressing machines.[4] Only two producers of lacquers remain: Apollo Masters in California, and MDC in Japan.[5]

Phonograph records are generally described by their diameter in inches (12-inch, 10-inch, 7-inch), the rotational speed in revolutions per minute (rpm) at which they are played (​8 13, ​16 23, ​33 13, 45, 78),[6] and their time capacity, determined by their diameter and speed (LP [long playing], 12-inch disc, ​33 13 rpm; SP [single], 10-inch disc, 78 rpm, or 7-inch disc, 45 rpm; EP [extended play], 12-inch disc, ​33 13 or 45 rpm); their reproductive quality, or level of fidelity (high-fidelity, orthophonic, full-range, etc.); and the number of audio channels (monostereoquad, etc.).

Vinyl records may be scratched or warped if stored incorrectly but if they are not exposed to high heat, carelessly handled or broken, a vinyl record has the potential to last for centuries.