Wax Lyrical – Why Is There A Spike In Vinyl Sales?

By Matt Drake

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Today I’d like to discuss vinyl

The first thing to note is that there is no suffix ‘s’ on the end when discussing it in the plural sense; The plural of vinyl is vinyl. Just a little heads up for anybody ‘curious’ about experimenting with it. It’s so when you step into a record shop somewhere you don’t incur the wrath of some forty odd fanatic lambasting you for accidentally adding the ‘s’ – like something out of High Fidelity.

Album sales are up 70% from last year and it seems as though the vinyl resurgence will continue to grow. But why is there a resurgence? Why does it continue to grow? I think the answer’s an easy one. Let’s take a look at the official UK album chart as it stands at the moment:

1. Drones – Muse
2. How Big How Blue How Beautiful – Florence & The Machine
3. The Ultimate Collection – Paul Simon
4. Before This World – James Taylor
5. X – Ed Sheeran
6. The Very Best Of Glenn Miller
7. Wilder Mind – Mumford & Sons
8. The Orignal High – Adam Lambert
9. In The Lonely Hour – Sam Smith
10. The Best Of Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac

Well, music is definitely a subjective thing. However, I definitely think that there is quite a lot of shluck in that top ten. In my opinion, the best album out of those by far is Fleetwood Mac’s, in fact it’s got some of their best tunes on it. The rest I could take or leave, in fact I’d definitely take and leave both Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons in a microwave on full blast.

Now let’s take a look at the official UK vinyl chart:

1. Chasing Yesterday – Noel Gallagher’s Flying Birds
2. Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin
3. AM – Arctic Monkeys
4. Royal Blood – Royal Blood
5. The Race For Space – Public Service Broadcasting
6. Shadows In The Night – Bob Dylan
7. The Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
8. Lost In The Dream – War on Drugs
9. Happy People – Peace
10. Four Symbols – Led Zeppelin

Like I said it’s all subjective, but come on! The vinyl chart has two albums from Led Zeppelin for god’s sake, that’s reason enough. But it also has Dylan and Floyd too and Dark Side Of The Moon is undoubtedly one of the best albums of all time.

Of course it’s unfair to compare the two since the vinyl chart encompasses such a broad scope of time. Or is it an unfair comparison? Absolutely not! The two charts actually encompass the same amount of time, you can buy artists from any era now and the vinyl chart has contemporary artists too.

The reason why vinyl sales are on the increase is the reason why it’s chart is so good and the album chart – which encompasses CD and digital – has a lot of generic crap on (in my opinion). The reason why most acts sound the same nowadays is all down to digital music, spotify and illegal downloading.

This is undoubtedly true, however, I don’t blame people in the slightest for downloading music illegally or listening to music on Spotify. It’s because record companies want to squeeze money out of you. They could easily make money out of album sales by decreasing the price of an album, but they don’t.

Just think, why would you want to buy an album on Itunes, or a CD in Tesco for £11.99 when you could just get it for free? Or the fact that in a few weeks you’ll be able to buy the same album in a reduced bargain bin for £2.99?

This has caused music to become tenuous. By this I mean people don’t have to invest money in bands they like by buying their music. As a result record companies are less inclined to invest in bands too, so the only people who make it onto the big labels are manufactured artists, or people who have a lot of “hype” online, such as Ed Sheeran…. Or Bieber….

That’s the reason people turn to albums. Unlike buying an album in Tesco if you buy Dark Side Of The Moon for £150, (original pressing), in fifty years time that album it will have risen in value – who knows how much by if the demand for vinyl increases? It’s an investment.

Nowadays most people listen to their music on computer speakers or Ipod docks. The result of this is that the music often sounds tinny and cold. With vinyl there is a warm presence in the room.

Vinyl often sounds better. Did you know that The Beatles used to spend most of their time mastering the mono pressings of their albums? It’s because most people were too poor to afford stereo speakers. If you want to hear how Sgt. Pepper was supposed to sound you have to listen to a mono vinyl – something digital music can’t offer.

I think what vinyl offers the most though is that it’s something tangible, something you can actually hold in your hand and admire the artwork. Not something played on a robot of some kind, but something acoustic—needle scratching wax.

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