Space …the vinyl frontier. Musical mad scientist Jack White has completed his mission to play the first ever vinyl record in space. A gold plated 12-inch master of Carl Sagan’s ‘A Glorious Dawn’ was played by the specially designed Icarus Craft, which consisted of a specially engineered turntable attached to a high altitude balloon to take it to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. The world first came about thanks to former NASA member Kevin Carrico and the SATINS program who worked in collaboration with Jack White’s innovative label Third Man Records
Modern music media is quick to write off albums as a thing of the past, pointing at dwindling sales figures as a sign that the end is nigh. Industry moguls can often be found lamenting over the apparently fickle nature of modern consumers and the fact that people these days simply can’t be bothered to sit through an entire album. To paraphrase Mark Twain: the reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated, and I for one am fed up of this bleak and out of touch outlook. The truth is albums have more power now than they have done in a long time, you just need to know where to look. Continue reading
Last year Tesco became the first UK supermarket to reintroduce vinyl records into their stores with a limited run of Iron Maiden’s ‘The Book of Souls’. Sainsbury’s have decided to go one better and will begin selling a select range of vinyl from March 21st. The LPs they plan to stock mostly consist of classic albums from the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie, as well as some more recent bestsellers such as Adele and Amy Winehouse. With the vinyl due to be sold in 171 locations, Sainsbury’s will soon have more record outlets than any other UK retailer.
According to BPI, music sales in the UK in 2015 came to a value of £1.06 billion, compared to 2014’s £1.03 billion. This is the first rise in music sales since 2004. The sales increase is due to the rise in streaming and the vinyl resurgence. Streaming use rose 82% and vinyl sales rose 64% in 2015. The biggest money makers for the industry are home grown artists, with Adele’s ’25’ being the best selling album of the year and Ed Sheeran being the most streamed artist.
HMV has reported that they sold one record player every minute in the week running up to Christmas. John Lewis also had a 240% boost in record player sales. The vinyl resurgence has also hit online retailers with record players being the best selling audio product on Amazon over Christmas. It is yet more evidence of the growing popularity of the vinyl format which is seeing ever increasing LP sections in HMV stores and the opening of new independent record stores across the country.
It has been announced that Tesco will be the first UK supermarket to begin selling new vinyl records. A Tesco representative said it was the “next logical step” after their promising sales of record players. Fifty five stores across the country will be stocked with vinyl editions of Iron Maiden’s new album ‘The Book of Souls’, and depending on how they sell the supermarket’s new vinyl section will be sure to expand to meet demand.
These days I buy most of my music on vinyl when I can. With the recent resurgence, vinyl manufacturers have upped their game so that the records are sturdier and download codes often come as a standard. However sometimes I am a little put off by some poor production decisions. The issue is with modern albums which weren’t recorded with vinyl in mind as the preferred format. It’s in trying to convert these recent releases into a different format that causes the trouble. Many albums get made into double albums when they shouldn’t be. Continue reading
What with sales of vinyl records reaching their highest point in 20 years, the Official Charts Company have announced the introduction of an official vinyl chart of the top 40 best selling albums and singles. The chart will commence ahead of this year’s annual Record Store Day, which has massively helped the recent revival. Many of this year’s exclusive limited edition releases, including new music from Mumford & Sons and Florence + The Machine, are bound to make an appearance. The second coming of vinyl does present some issues though. With sales having already increased around 70% thus far this year, and set to rise further due to the new charts and Saturday’s Record Store Day, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the high demand. Hopefully investors will be influenced by the rapid record resurgence to open new production lines.
You cannot stop the progress of time. Trends change, technology advances, life carries on regardless. Music downloads are already on the downhill leg of their short lifespan thanks to the rise of music streaming services such as Spotify providing the masses with free access to a world of music at the touch of a button. But history has a peculiar way of repeating itself. There, lurking in the shadows, the vinyl LP record. You’ve no doubt seen them a lot more in recent years, the other day I counted at least 7 different places in my local town where you could by both second hand records and new pressing and reissues. Vinyl sales have reached an 18 year high with over one million units sold.