Nobody expected Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber to record their music on vinyl.
That move, though, is part of a whopping revival for vinyl. Sales, according to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), more than doubled last financial year – up 127 per cent.
In comparison DVDs were down 50 per cent and CDs down 12 per cent.
“There is a great romance about putting a vinyl record on a turntable and dropping down the needle to hear the little crackles and squeaks before the music starts,” said the Australian Recording Industry Association’s chief executive Dan Rosen.
“It seems that a lot more artists are using vinyl as a way to give their fans a tangible way of showing their fandom.”
It’s true the vinyl record is still a niche product, with just 277,767 sales in 2014 – well behind the 757,645 DVD sales the same year.
But it is the only music product at bricks and mortar stores growing amid the global trend towards streaming and downloading music online – now 59 per cent of the market, at $187 million.
Retailers are trading on the romance of the vinyl record, while the hipsters’ penchant for all things “old school” has helped boost sales.
Chief executive of Retail Doctor Group Brian Walker said while vinyl records are still niche, he wasn’t surprised by the spike in sales, citing a trend in “personality-driven” retro products.
“The world is becoming increasingly homogenised … fashion shops churn out the same looking dresses and furniture shops churn out identical sofas … at some level, people are finding different ways to define themselves through the retro market.”
Paul Cook, owner of 22-year-old music store Heartland Records in North Melbourne, said his record sales rose by 30 per cent in the past two years.
The variety of music on vinyl has grown as big-name pop artists enter the market and classics are re-issued, he said.
“It’s gone up in the last few years, it’s very noticeable,” Mr Cook said.
Customers included long-term collectors, first-time buyers and others hunting for records they regretted throwing out when CDs entered the market, Mr Cook said.
Joe Brnadic, an avid record collector and Triple R radio host, said vinyl records had started to resemble an “art form”.
He said the process of shopping in a record store, coupled with the product’s artwork, sleeve notes and quality of sound, meant vinyl was impervious to the challenge posed by the online music industry.
“It is more of a genuine artefact … everyone wants to connect with something physically as well as emotionally, and you have that experience with records.”
First published through Sydney Morning Herald on the 4th of March 2015