Will Vinyl Save the Music Industry?
As I have been skimming through multiple articles relating to the music industry, I keep seeing talk of the rapid increase in vinyl sales over the past year. This article by Mark Mulligan caught my attention because it was the first I saw that appeared to have somewhat of a negative, or perhaps just more realistic, view toward vinyl. As a musician and vinyl collector myself, I have been greatly pleased to see the resurgence in popularity vinyl records are having. While most of the records being purchased are from an older nostalgic crowd, thanks to “Hipsters”, records are beginning to gain popularity with a new younger crowd. However, when looking at large scale music consumption, records are not even in the same ball park as digital downloads and streaming. We live in an era of convenience and short attention spans. Our young generation has gotten accustomed to instant gratification. They want something and they want it now. The thought of having to put effort into anything seems overwhelming. Many people can barely listen to the end of a song, let alone an entire album. So where do they go? They stream music from any number of sources because they can listen to whatever that want, whoever they want, whenever they want. Of course, I am not saying streaming is a bad thing. I love the unlimited access as well. However, I do believe that an essential piece of the musical experience can be lost.
When you actually purchase an album, you get a sense of ownership. You form a connection to it. If it is a good artist, they do not simply compile a bunch of random songs and call it an album. The record played it its entirety creates a cohesive masterpiece that should move you. It should separate you from your everyday life and take you to a new place where you can feel everything that the artist was feeling as they poured their heart and soul into the music. That is what albums are meant to do…at least the great ones. Yet record labels seem less inclined to invest the time and money to produce full length albums today. Instead preferring to churn out a new single every few weeks. Unfortunately, it appears that money too often trumps art in today’s world.
So, is this new increase in vinyl sales going to “Save the Music Business”? No, Mulligan is probably correct. With the digital age that we live in, vinyl sales will never touch streaming and digital downloads. That being said, I do urge younger bands that are beginning to cultivate a following to start putting out vinyls. With current trends, it could be more cost effective than producing CD’s. If more and more artists push for this vinyl reboot, I believe it will help to preserve the art of the full length album for generations to come.