Thursday, 20 October 2011

Super Vinyl Adventure Club

It should be no secret that I am a big lover of vinyl. So I read with great interest yesterday that sales of vinyl LP's have reached their highest level in six years, and that should current sales continue then vinyl LP sales will exceed 300,000 for the first time since 2005.

So what should we make of these figures? Well firstly it's clear that Radiohead have their part to play. Their latest LP 'The King Of Limbs' has sold in excess of 20,000 copies, meaning it roughly accounts for 6% of all vinyl LP's sold. That is an impressive figure, and clearly Radiohead won't be releasing a new LP every year (we could only wish!) so is this upwards buck in the trend down to them alone?

Probably to a certain extent. But each year seems to bring with it it's own 'must buy' record. So there is no reason to suspect that there won't be a 2012 'King Of The Limbs'-esqe LP.

Another thing to consider is the growing success of Record Store Day, which in April 2011 saw record sales. LP sales were up 20%, a record amount of store took part, and there were 250 exclusive releases. Each year RSD seems to go from strength to strength, partly down to the organisers and the participating stores enthusiasm but also because of the public appetite for vinyl as a physical format.

There is also the 'indie' nature of vinyl sales. Without getting into a huge debate about what 'indie' even means anymore, I'd say 8 out of the top 10 selling vinyl LP's this year are indie artists. Indie and alternative artists are probably the strongest force behind supporting the continuing vinyl sales, Arctic Monkeys for example routinely release things on vinyl only.

Record companies have also started routinely including mp3 codes and/or a CD version of the album with LP's, something which I have raved about in the past. In my eyes it's a thank you to the paying customer for buying a format which cannot be listened to in any way other than a record deck. It's also a recognition that the overwhelming majority of music fans do also use mp3 players.

But just how much of a success is the latest figures? Well I'm not privy to independent record shops accounts, but I imagine that their owners are hardly driving Bently's and sipping on champagne. A lot of the success of stores like Avalanche in Edinburgh and Monorail and LOVE Music in Glasgow are down to the dedication and sheer love of music their owners have. It feels like that the decline of record shops as prophecised by Graham Jones is slowing off.

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