Reason to celebrate on Record Store Day
Posted April 18, 2012
The eight-track took a shot at it, followed by the cassette, CD and MP3. But vinyl just won't die.
In fact, Saturday's fifth annual Record Store Day— which will feature in-store performances by more than 300 bands — arrives to the welcome news that sales of new vinyl albums are up 20% year-to-date over last year, with more than 1 million discs sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
That's still a small fraction of overall album sales (up 1% year-to-date, with 84.2 million sold), but the trend is a retro thrill to those who have never given up on the glories of pressed plastic.
"Record-store owners are as befuddled by this growth as anyone, but I sense it has more to do with romance than logic," says Michael Kurtz, co-founder of Record Store Day. A survey commissioned by Kurtz revealed that 70% of vinyl shoppers were under age 34, and half were women.
"There's the fact that with vinyl, you feel you really own something, but I also think it's more fun to make out to records," he says, laughing. "They give you something to talk about."
Record Store Day kicked off in 2008 with a San Francisco in-store performance by Metallica, the main purpose to help preserve such stores. This year, event ambassador Iggy Pop will appear at Sweat Records in Miami, and Dierks Bentley will play at Easy Street Records in Seattle.
Also marking the occasion are special releases, including a 7-inch version of Jimmy Fallon's Tebowie David Bowie/Tim Tebow mashup, a 12-inch release of the Grateful Dead's epic Dark Star jam, and 10,000 individually poured editions of The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends double album. (For a list of other releases, visit recordstoreday.com.)
Vinyl's slow crawl back from its digital-age beating "is not a game saver for the music industry, but it's a victory for those who have felt depressed at the thought of never again being able to flip through racks of records," says Steve Knopper, contributing editor at Rolling Stone.
"We all love the portability of digital music, but going to a record store is about meeting people and talking about music," he says. "Plus an LP is retro and cool. You can hold it in your hand."
Vinyl's surge isn't likely to slow, says David Bakula, senior vice president of analytics for entertainment with Nielsen.
"That we're up 20% without any special releases tells you a lot," he says. "Some seek out vinyl for its sound quality, but I'm guessing that most just love the notion of being able to collect records again."
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