I have heard that many recording artists always request a vinyl master. This act of rebellion against the “digital onlies” as well as all the house DJ’s keep vinyl on life support allowing it to continue its significant impact on the music industry.
We’ve had music longer than any other form of communication. In fact, at the San Francisco Music Tech Summit, Bryan Kim was quoted as saying, “music has been with us longer than writing, agriculture and civilization.” He put up a slide showing that music is 40 thousand years old with agricultural civilization coming in at only 10 thousand and writing not showing up until about 6 thousand years ago.
While I don’t quibble about the dawn of civilization, I do have a issue with the age of music. I would suspect that some of the songbirds or now extinct animal was giving out singing lessons for millions of years before we came to understand what music even was, which I’m still working on figuring out. Moreover, this leads me to believe that music is much more ingrained in our DNA than most realize. This is perhaps a subject more complicated than most are aware or even care to realize and a great subject for another blog post.
I haven’t seen one movie or read a book that ever mentioned life without music. I can’t imagine it, you probably can’t either.
Now, I’m not a digital hater; I’ve been trying to stream music online since 1994ish on a jouney that started with me to putting up Altavoz.com as one of the 1st 50 thousand domains in the world. I started out by streaming a concert called Marsday.com from Washington, DC (Big Organge Pop, Live Alien Broadcast and the Loose Nuts) in 1999 and launching three of the first steams for WindowsMedia.com.
Way back in 2008, Nielsen had vinyl at .08 with 1.88 million vinyl albums purchased. It seem that wax releases were slowly climbing out of their so called grave from about 2006 onward. Some mere four years later the consumer has driven this number up to close to 2.8 million units sold in 2011. I’ve seen recent reports saying in 2012 vinyl is surging from this same time last year with an 16.3% increase to 3.2 million sold. I’m pretty sure we’re really not getting the full picture to boot. Many stores that sell vinyl don’t SoundScan and many of the releases don’t have a UPC code. Nonetheless and comparatively, vinyl is selling just as well as digital.
So why is vinyl selling? I have heard that many recording artists always request a vinyl master for their recordings. These acts of rebellion against the “digital onlies” and the house DJs keep vinyl on life support so it continues to be an important part of of the music landscape. Perhaps today, for many it’s a remembrance of a different time in their lives when they could sit back, maybe in a beanbag chair with some earphones on, music cranked and mind-melting into the liner notes, journeying into sometimes crazy and other times melodical stories that recording artists alone are able to understand and convey. To so many of us, music is more than a service. It’s magic. When done right, vinyl is still the best format we have today. However, I also have another theory about why it’s selling so well.
It’s called the “stick it in your eye old people” theory. It goes alone the lines of this: the fact that so many have proclaimed that digital is the only way to go. Whether it was to separate themselves from their physical buying older sibling or worse, their parents, or just to be new, they did it! Now the tide has come back in. It always does and this generation coming up started checking out vinyl just to be different from the “digital onlies” big brothers and sisters before them. After all, what’s more different from an MP3 than wax?
And, once this next generation of consumers/fans found out about these things called record stores they got hooked on vinyl, not just on the colors, artwork and liner notes… they found that music stores have a culture that you don’t get from those other places that also sell music like Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks, 7-11 and Whole Foods. For all we know, vinyl sales will be with us for another 100 years since there is still no better way to represent an analog event than with an analog recording, with all due respect to Blu-Ray audio.
So for every article you see about digital just keep an eye and ear out for record players, vinyl records and the fans with their heads in the clouds not their music when it comes time to really enjoy the magic of music.