The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

28 May 2006

Forget tracks; give us grooves

Just try to download this:

Beset by digital piracy and increasing customer reluctance to pay for CDs, the music industry is fighting back with its latest technology — black vinyl records.

Music labels and high street retailers are busy turning back the industry's clock to a time not only before internet song downloads, but also before CDs or even audio cassettes. The irony is that the vinyl revolution is being led by teenage consumers who are prepared to stand in line for the latest 45 rpm single or 33-1/3-rpm LP (long-playing record) in much the same way that their parents, or in some cases their grandparents, did.

According to Rob Campkin, the head of Music at Virgin Megastores, vinyl is now outselling CDs when it comes to the latest records.

"Up to 70% of sales of new releases are vinyl. The fans of popular new rock bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Raconteurs prefer vinyl to CD," said Campkin. "When the Raconteurs' latest single was released, 80% of high-street sales were for seven-inch vinyl and only 20% were for CDs."

From 2001 to 2005, sales of vinyl 45s in Britain rose sixfold.

Maybe Roger Daltrey was right:

We threw away an art form that was so much more than the record. The size of the cover was perfect for art work. Sometimes the covers were more important than the music. The more fingerprints you got on it, the more it was a part of you. With a CD, you start with a nice plastic box and end with a scratched plastic box; it has no character whatsoever.

And with a download, you start with — what, exactly? A dialog box?

No, I'm not abandoning iTunes. Or CDs. Or whatever inevitably replaces them. (Probably won't be wax cylinders, but otherwise I'm not guessing.) But the idea that vinyl, almost twenty-five years after the invention of the CD, is still considered The Standard, is curiously gratifying.

Posted at 9:19 AM to Tongue and Groove


Everything old is new again. I can't wait until they bring back 8-tracks. Nobody will be able to even play, let alone copy, the damn things.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 1:30 PM on 28 May 2006

I forgot to add... maybe I'll be able to sell my old vinyl records for something other than pennies after all. Though now I'm thinking, do I want to? And I'm glad I still have a working turntable. I knew that if I waited long enough that I'd be at the head of a trend again!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 1:32 PM on 28 May 2006

I love my vinyl. I still remember the very first album I bought as a kid...Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Those were the days.

Posted by: Sarah at 9:20 PM on 28 May 2006

And how is this supposed to stop piracy?
My old "REALPLAYER PLUS" would take input from old fashioned tapes and convert them to MP3...presumably most computer savvy teens could do the same with their vinyls and send them on.

Fourty years ago, when I was a student, I'd tape from the radio or a friend's record to cut and paste my music...and 60 years ago, my uncle had a record player that would make a new record straight from his radio...

Given the way Chinese pirates get movies to our Palenke here in the Philippines a week after it opens in HongKong, you think they would go after professional theives in China and not teenagers...

Posted by: Nancy Reyes at 10:07 PM on 29 May 2006

Teenagers, though, are a lot easier to bust.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:13 AM on 4 June 2006