As we close the page on 2010 and its miserable economy, there was one bright spot for music lovers: VINYL.
That's right, vinyl. That analog medium that just won't die. According to Rolling Stone* vinyl sales were up in 2010. It seems over 2.8 million copies of records were sold in vinyl format. That's more copies than any year since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.
On the mastering front, I've seen this trend first hand, with an increasing number of clients directing me to create masters for digital release and pre-masters for cutting houses. In December 2010, I finished five projects that were slated for dual-release as digital and vinyl products, bypassing the CD format altogether. And I'm reasonably sure most of the projects I'm working on a short run vinyl (e.g. runs less than 5,000 units), and presumably not included in the SoundScan numbers.
For years we've been hearing claims from audiophile equipment vendors that vinyl was doing well. But I've always accepted those assertions with some reservation. After all, selling 2 records is a 100% increase if you only sold 1 the prior year! The question was always "what number" constituted "improved" sales? Now we know. And while 2.8 million is not Earth shattering, it can't be ignored. Some would call it impressive considering how hard it is to find a brick-and-mortar store that sells records. Lord, you can barely find a CD at Best Buy. You sure as heck can't find an LP! I don't want to get off on a rant, but I love how Best Buy now sells keyboards, guitars, and digital recording interfaces. They want you to record music, but don't want to help anyone sell music... but that's a blog for another day...
Tape Op readers represent both big name artists (whatever that means in 2011) as well as independent and regional ones. So what are you seeing? Are bands you work with talking about vinyl? If so, how are they selling them? Pre-order? Consignment? With digital? Comment and share your thoughts and experiences. As for me, I'm off to buy more cleaning fluid for my Nitty Gritty Record Vacuum Cleaner - the best $500 you'll spend if you love vinyl. (www.nittygrittyinc.com)
*Rolling Stone. 3 February 2011. "2010: YEAR IN REVIEW: Touring, Downloads Stall in Worst Year on Record." By Steve Knopper, Contributing Editor. P. 17 - 18.
by Larry Crane
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