The old school music formats of the 7” and 12” has returned to record stores, and over the past few years was seen as a hipster trend. But with big pop acts like Justin Timberlake releasing his part 2 of The 20/20 Experience on vinyl, and sales of vinyl records on the up, it seems more than a fashion trend, but a music revolution.
The vinyl record: an analogue sound storage format made from flat poly-vinyl discs with inscribed modulated grooves. Since the 1920’s, vinyl surpassed the phonograph cylinder as the popular way to listen to music.
The late 50’s/early 60’s saw the first major spike in sales with acts such as Elvis and The Beatles releasing plenty of records, making them collectibles and sought-after. Vinyl was at it’s peak during the 70’s and 80’s, for its iconic artwork and limited releases. By the late 80’s CDs were introduced, and by ’91 vinyl left the mainstream.
Since then we’ve had mini-disks and MP3’s, the latter more successful than the former, but an unpredicted return to vinyl has been made over the years. Events such as Record Store Day, was launched to encourage people to support their local record store and helped kick-start, this revolution which has changed consumers behaviour towards vinyl. Since its inception in 2007, it has grown from strength to strength, is celebrated worldwide with many artists of all genres, who participate and even schedule their releases for that day. The event’s growth in popularity coincides with sales of vinyl on the up and sales at indie record stores rising 44%.
Vinyls are a piece of music history. Limited releases make vinyl’s collectible items, which could be the reason for its recent popularity. Consumers want a piece of music history, and realise the only way to achieve this is to purchase records in store; not stream or purchase online.
The resurgence of vinyl has brought the X-factor back to Cover art. In the 70’s and 80’s brilliant pieces of art were being put onto 12” covers. LP covers for David Bowie, The Clash, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Queen, Iron Maiden and many more, became respected and iconic. But with the arrival of CD’s, cover artwork became irrelevant. With acts releasing on vinyl again it means they need a good, standout piece of artwork to go onto that big canvas, therefore artists such as Leif Podhajsky (the man behind Foals), Tame Impala and The Horrors recent album covers, have been in huge demand. The Secret 7” Project which runs alongside Record Store Day, also draws attention to artwork using respected artists like Gilbert and George. The catch is, there’s no label so you don’t know what song you’re getting and buy the record purely for the artwork.
“Secret 7’’ combines music and art for a good cause. What we do is take seven tracks from seven of the best-known bands and artists around. We press each of those tracks 100 times to vinyl then get creatives from around the world to interpret artwork in their own style for of one of the 7 tracks; resulting in a one-of-a-kind sleeve for every single one”.
Personally, vinyl’s comeback is a brilliant thing. I’ve always loved purchasing physical copies of releases, and I have piles of CD’s which I value so much for its album cover booklets. But I’ve now discovered a love for vinyl. I have always been intrigued by my parent’s collection, it was something I wanted to be part of but couldn’t for a long time. For me collecting vinyl is a hobby based around my huge love of music. I love the idea of spending time trawling through record stores for new releases, old classics and any rarities I may find. After having purchased a number of vinyl, I definitely plan on buying more. The sound quality, the beautiful artwork, its a collectible piece of music history I can treasure forever.
If more people brought vinyl records, there would be a lot more money for bands to carry on creating music and invest in tour dates, and essentially help keep record stores open. It might not stop illegal downloads of music, or fully fix the music industry, but it can curve the mind-set and attitudes towards purchasing music. Money pumped back into vinyl sales and record stores helps acts carry on living their dream, pushing their creative boundaries musically and artistically on future releases.
Vinyl’s resurgence, has encouraged music lovers to treasure and respect music much more. Since the novelty of downloading and streaming music took off, music seemed disposable and was taken for granted. Anything that can persuade consumers to view music as something to be valued, is always a good thing.
Written by Charlotte Pearson