Should we think of the vinyl resurgence as paving the way to a fairer and more wholesome relationship with music?
Vinyl sales have been increasing gradually for the last several years, now being the second format of choice for music fans worldwide after streaming, but why? Maybe it’s because some people prefer the sound quality, they like to physically own the music, or maybe like Toby – a conscientious bedroom DJ, they believe it to be “a greater guarantee that money is going to the artist”. While it’s hard to say whether vinyl brings in more money for artists on the whole, there are certainly other benefits for all parties that shouldn’t be forgotten.
“When I have played vinyl sets, I feel more accomplished with my set, the tactile feel that goes with it adds to the energy and vibe.” – Sweetpea
Toby and Sweetpea – an established DJ, both speak of the appeal physically owning music has in the digital age. Whether it’s the cover art, the feel when mixing, or even the sense of community that comes with going to your local record shop; trading off some of that streaming convenience can really go a long way to benefit your music experience as well as the industry supply chain that supports it. Sweetpea emphasises this community aspect, “the networking and meeting of people over records and merch is so important for scenes, fans and general wellbeing.” as well as the wider scope of vinyl production “When buying vinyl records this is supporting a wider range of people – the label, the vinyl pressing plants, the distributor, record shops and communities.”
We still can’t ignore the obvious benefits streaming provides for the listener, and although US vinyl revenues have hit $467 million already in the first half of 2021, streaming revenues hitting $5.9 billion in the same period highlights the high demand for this format among consumers. Even Chris Parkinson – manager of Calibre and Signature Records, understands that with streaming “millions of people can discover & enjoy Calibre’s music with no great financial barrier”, with Sweetpea highlighting a similar point. Chris still points to many of the same benefits alluded to earlier, as well as giving the artist’s perspective, “…the ‘work of art’ [vinyl] presented as the artist intended. When Calibre releases music, vinyl is still the first & foremost format he considers as the true release.”
Perhaps it’s important to remember that dance music artists & DJs will always start out on a small scale, and if we want to support them we have to understand how our listening & purchasing habits can have an effect. Chris expresses this notion beautifully.
“Streaming only really works financially at scale, in the millions. Whereas vinyl can still work if say 300 people buy the record directly.” – Chris Parkinson
Just remember that next time you’re wondering whether to spend £20 on this traditional yet alluring music repository that, let’s face it, has stood the test of time!