Vinyl Sales Up 33 Percent? I Don’t Get It

Last week, The Nielsen Company posted their SoundScan sales figures for 2009: digital downloads continued to increase, CD purchases continued to decline, yadda yadda. But the real story here is that vinyl album sales went up 33% from the previous year.


Like I said in the headline, I just don’t get it. Fans of this ancient 19th century format will argue that “it just sounds better.” The last vinyl record I heard was “London Calling,” playing on (Chachi bandmate) Richard’s phonograph last Halloween. It sounded limp and tinny, the equivalent of turning down all the bands on your EQ except the rightmost one. Okay, maybe he just had cheap speakers. But if an LP’s playback quality is so superior to that of a digital music player, why would one play it through cheap speakers? Why go through all the trouble?

By “trouble” I mean the hassles of PHYSICAL MEDIA. They break. They scratch. They melt, for god’s sake. And a decent collection takes up multiple cubic feet of space, weighing hundreds of pounds. Want to listen to your favorite Beatles album on vinyl? Dig through your bins and boxes, pull the fragile disc out of its sleeve, carefully hold it by the edges, place it on the turntable, gently swing the arm over, resting the needle ever so gently in the groove… Ugh. Personally I’m much happier telling my pocket-sized iPhone, “Play album ‘Magical Mystery Tour.'” Boom. It plays.

Then there’s the artwork. Well, I can’t argue this point. I enjoy good album art. In fact, I purchased “Violent Femmes” and “Paul’s Boutique” on vinyl last year, not to listen to, but to frame and mount on my living room wall. 😛

So, my contention: listening to music etched onto a big black platter in the year 2010 is just a hipster novelty (DJs not included). Look, I wouldn’t mind pressing and selling a couple thousand copies of “Socially Inept” on vinyl, if the market is there. It’s just not for me.

11 comments to Vinyl Sales Up 33 Percent? I Don’t Get It

  • […] your hipster sensibilities and your audiophile needs. What’s not to love? Although, I have friends who would differ…and who totally heckled my Facebook page for my love of […]

  • jay

    Why would someone be bothered by increasing vinyl sales???? Unless you work in a vinylstore working your ass off like a slave….No more orders please,i want mp3,i am lazy gadgetfanboy.

    We all know mp3´s are worthless files that can be erased within miliseconds,nobody cares,no value. I´ve downloaded about 30 albums recently and only the best i will buy on wax…why?
    Well why do people go on holidays while they can watch the entire world on their LCD screens.

    Get a life..

  • Randy

    You got it wrong, Jay. A vinyl proprietor can only be thrilled at the prospect of increasing sales.
    As an independent music producer, I’m bothered by this idea because vinyl discs have inferior audio quality compared to digital media. It’s science, pure and simple.

    Your holiday vs. LCD screen analogy is incorrect also. The analog to that would be listening to ANY prerecorded music vs. going to a concert. Or playing a live instrument yourself.

    By the way, give me one of your precious wax platters and I’ll show you how that too can be erased within milliseconds 🙂

    Chachi SMASH!

  • Joebin

    Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It’s the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can’t be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

    Most new vinyls also come with a free coupon to download mp3 version of the album. So even if the physical vinyl breaks or gets too scratched, you still have the electronic version. —Or just torrent everything and then you can get any type of quality digital music you want.

  • n

    I do not like naysayers I agree with Jay. Digitasl Media stopped being indie since 2001, when a little company called APlle corpritsed it., YOu can’t touch digital, as well as this digital media is more fragile, meaning that there will be no historical artifacts left when future generations, thousands of years into the future start to research and dig up our way of life in 2010. CDs are mass produced. Vinyl is at least a more expressive medium. If it gets cracked or broken deal with it. TO not embrace the vinyl format you are not indie. Plus you are missiing out on a big niche market. The internet’s big, even for torrent programs. I can’t even go around my Itunes theres so a glut of music out there. Some people need convience. Humans are physical and expressional beings. We need phyical things.

  • n

    damn you keyboard!
    I’m sorry for being angry earlier.
    wHat I mean is, digital mediums are not sustainble in terms of preserving historical and societial content. THey don’ t work

  • a

    Vinyl is the backlash against digital music.

    There is something to be said for the nice art, the physicalness of it, and the fact that there is no shuffle button, forcing you to listen to the entire album, as the artist intended. It lasts longer as all hard drives eventually die, and unless you spend a lot of money on backups, you will eventually have to rebuild your music collection. From a purely scientific point of view, a CD may be a more accurate reproduction of the sound that was burned onto it, but enjoyment of music is entirely subjective (in a way you could say that music is 100% placebo).

  • TheGuyfromTatooine

    I hope that i can see the day mp3 is dead. That day will be my happiest day ever. A vinyl fan from Turkey.

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