Vinyl fantasy: Is the record boom bad for new music?
Vinyl has seen a surprising resurgence in recent years, but is it counter-productive to the music industry's health?This article originally appeared on Fact Mag
As we gear up for another Record Store Day this weekend, shelves across the world’s boutique stores will fill with lurid colored vinyl editions of nostalgic classics and 180-gram represses of sought-after gems. But if the vinyl industry is booming, why is it so hard for labels to sell new music? Oli Warwick investigates.
From ham-fisted placement in nostalgic movies to adding hip kudos to unrelated product advertising, vinyl records are ubiquitous in these retro-fetishistic times. Sales are the highest they’ve been for 25 years, and we’re told that “vinyl is set to become a billion dollar industry,” but in the face of reissue hype and 12” sleeves as mantelpiece decoration, new independent music is suffering.
When a label as stoutly vinyl-focused as long-running Detroit techno outpost Underground Resistance is publicly lamenting the struggle to maintain the format in view of pressing plant delays and tricky payment terms, can the vinyl boom really be benefiting the music that kept the format alive all these years?
Record Store Day itself is seen by some as a vessel for pointless reissues of easily available back catalogue material, while Thaddeus Hermann pointed out in his 2015 feature the technical problems pressing plants have been facing in wake of the surge in demand. While the headlines paint a rosy picture, some argue the vinyl industry is becoming the preserve of major labels, leaving the independents struggling to compete with spiraling costs in a more competitive market.
Cover photo courtesy of Mike Windle/Getty Images for Coachella