The Vinyl Frontier

Vinyl sales have seen an amazing resurgence in recent years, Growth and sales numbers are now at their highest level since 1990.

However only 50% of consumers who purchased vinyl in the past 12 months actually own a turntable.

Streaming seems to offer a more convenient method of listening to music sadly at the mercy of liveable royalties to the artists, writers and performers. Which is probably why the manufacture of vinyl offers the creatives a better return on their long and often thankless endeavours, especially when touring is included.

It’s the tangible act of purchasing, collecting and displaying the vinyl, particularly the detailed artwork, that makes the difference, and for many fans, this coexists with the convenience of digital streaming, offering the best of both worlds. Despite the fact that we’re told that Vinyl sounds infinitely better, it’s a well-known fact that most people wouldn’t hear the difference between a beautifully recorded, high bandwidth piece of music and its heavily compressed MP3 equivalent embedded within the streaming empires. The same can be said of CDs and other ‘better quality’ recordings against the streaming inadequacies that are certainly in the majority.

So, Vinyl has clearly become just another form of merchandise: Listening to the favourite artists via the smartphones while fondling the larger, better quality, more picturesque product would appear to be a suitable partnership especially when you have no intention of playing the latter preferring to keep it wrapped in cellophane or stacked on the memorabilia shelf. But an effective means of supporting the artist that goes beyond the miniscule often non-existent royalties dispensed by streaming services.

I remember talking to a well-known, popstar-wine-grower in Portugal. He told me that despite having good commercial deals with Waitrose and the like, his wine would fly off the shelves and never be drunk. It could contain vinegar but the devoted fans really wouldn’t know. It could be argued that not opening and drinking it would retain its value but it sort of defeats the real purpose of buying something so consumable.

Also clear in my mind were the times when touring with Jem, my daughter, we would use our merchandising to support the very tour we were on. Each tour having to support a new album, sticker, EP or piece of clothing. The physical token of fan-based allegiance wanting to take home a little piece of their night out and all that it meant.

I remember when streaming was taking over from the merchandising as being the main attraction, asking another very well-known manager what he felt was the best thing to produce for concerts to sell to the fans. He said with absolute confidence: “The Programme!” Brilliant; Cheap, third party advertising, a few ‘token’ goodies for the fans and stacks of pictures. It’s surprising there aren’t more people doing this, especially when you can charge £15 a pop for virtually nothing. M.F.O.R. in my book.

So, while the streaming empire grows on a minute-by-minute basis, draining every ounce of quality and royalty from the hands of the creative artist, we may see an optimistic return to better days of purchasing and product.

Those in the know understand how long it takes to write and produce a music track, whether it be for a single release of part of a larger ‘album’ project. I believe we must educate and inform those that know no better. And if you have a fan base, milk it for all its worth. Goodness knows, you deserve it!

To Boldly Go……