The rather unexpected comeback of vinyl is quite a fascinating phenomenon to cover.
With the advent of file sharing, CD sales have plummeted to the point where we’ve reported that the format could be phased out as soon as this year, but vinyl sales have still been going strong.
Several years ago I wrote about metal and vinyl, and Jonny Z, who first signed Metallica to his indie Megaforce label, told me, “At the last two retail conferences I went to, it was made clear that vinyl sales are still today, believe it or not, 7% of the business. 7%. That’s amazing.”
Now Guitar World is reporting that sales of 45s, or 7 inch singles, have gone up 99.6% last year. Even more bizarre is the report that 78s, or 10 inch record, sales are also on the rise as well, a format that’s been long dead. (Know anyone that has a record player that plays 78s?)
There’s even a label called Tompkins Square, that’s been re-issuing 78s, and Tom Waits and Elvis Costello have also put out 78s as well. And according to Digital Music News, a lot of new turntables can play 78s.
As someone explained to me when I was researching the resurgence of vinyl, part of the format’s resurrection is fans wanting to chose their own formats, and not have the major labels dictate to them how to listen to music. Guitar World also ran a report on a recent Neil Young press conference, where he expressed concern about vinyl, and that ironically Steve Jobs could have saved the format.
As Young said at a conference called D: Dive Into Media, Young said, “My goal is to try and rescue the art form that I’ve been practicing for the past 50 years. We live in the digital age and, unfortunately, it’s degrading our music, not improving it. Steve Jobs [was] a pioneer of digital music, and his legacy is tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you’ve got to believe that if he’d lived long enough, he would have done what I’m trying to do.”