Talk about a vinyl record revival in 2021, with the streaming As the absolute king of music consumption, he is overly optimistic. But the truth is that pandemic music buying habits have accelerated the revival of the classic LP around the world. For the first time since 1987, sales of vinyl records in countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States have exceeded the sales of the once almighty CD.
The carbon footprint of streaming music is higher than that of vinyl and CDs
The format, which was invented in the 1950s, is experiencing an undeniable revival. In the United Kingdom, record companies have seen a 30% increase in their income from the sale of vinyl during 2020, with a total of 86.5 million pounds collected. In Spain we are still far from sorpasso to CD, but the trend is clear. Vinyl continues to gain supporters among fans who opt for physical purchases and already accounts for 40% of physical music sales. Even last year, with the industry generally collapsing due to the closure of record stores during the pandemic, vinyl album sales contracted by a modest 8%, while CD sales fell close to 57%.
“With streaming, the CD has lost value,” says Iñigo Guardamino, from the physical sales department of Altafonte. “In Spain there are still people who buy the María Dolores Pradera CD to put it at home for Christmas, but above all they are selling special editions, which include a DVD or a book. Almost all the CDs that we put out are luxury items, with lots of photos and other items. However, vinyl is a special edition unto itself. The person buying vinyl is making a statement of intent. Has something cool, from status”.
Daniel Forés, from the Madrid record store Marilians, is clear: “We have been with the project for two years and from the beginning we were clear that we were going to work only with vinyl. The CD is a format that is a bit outdated because digital platforms give you the same sound. Also because of the possibilities that the format gives you, at the level of designs, colors … Music fans like collecting. People who buy physical are going to vinyl. ”
Record companies, both major and indies, are betting more on vinyl. Promusicae This year has begun to publish a weekly list of vinyl sales in our country and, except for some exceptional curiosities, the top positions are occupied by current artists such as C. Tangana, Dua Lipa or Harry Styles. Many of the news come out directly in this format and there is a lot of catalog recovery or rescue.
“The vinyls are expensive to manufacture,” explains Guardamino and adds: “But the margin that the distributor and the artist take is greater. In addition, the special editions are revalued more ”. Just take a look at the web Discogs (the largest portal for the sale of second-hand records in the world) to see how each month discontinued editions are sold by figures that reach four digits.
There is even a greater interest on the part of young people who see how their favorite artists prefer to release on vinyl: “Our audience is very young”, Forés says, and clarifies that “it seems that vinyl is bought by older people, who buy second hand… but our audience is between 25 and 35 years old. They come in regularly and buy new records, emerging artist releases, 7 inches … Not only are Beatles and Stones vinyl sold. Records by Sen Senra, Carolina Durante, El Buen Hijo are sold … Zahara’s album, for example, sold out in less than a month and was a large print run. So you have to buy fast because they run out and it takes a long time to re-manufacture. We are talking about terms of 4 or 5 months to get a new print run. In that sense, I do believe that vinyl is on the rise ”.
Precisely this Saturday, July 17, is celebrated (for the second time in 2021) the Record Store Day, an event to celebrate independent record store culture and art. Every year hundreds of artists and record labels join the cause by publishing exclusive editions for the occasion.
A sentimental value
The liturgy of listening to vinyl records may be gaining traction, but the reality is that streaming remains by far the main livelihood of the recording industry, generating 88% of total revenue. “I listen to music on Spotify and it sounds good, decent”, confesses Guardamino and adds: “On Itunes or streaming platforms black leg it sounds better. And on vinyl it sounds even better. But if what you want is to listen to trap with your friends in a park, you are going to listen to it on your mobile. What is clear is that having a physical album generates a greater bond with the artist. It has a sentimental value. I started working with vinyl about 15 years ago and then it was already said that physical music had two news programs left … and here we are still 15 years later. There will always be a niche of people who want to ‘play’ music ”.