Internet advances, digital downloads and music streaming could have signalled the end for the tactile romance of the vinyl record.
The format had seemingly been in terminal decline following the rise of the Compact Disc and later digital MP3s, but in 2014 the vinyl revival has seen album record sales soar past the million mark for the first time in 18 years.
Sales figures have been gradually increasing since the late noughties, leaving Yorkshire’s record store stalwarts unsurprised at the news. Sales were most recently buoyed by Pink Floyd’s The Endless River – their first release for 20 years.
Selling 6,000 vinyl Floyd albums in just a week, it was the biggest opening week for a vinyl record since 1997 according to new figures released by music industry body BPI.
Crash Records, in The Headrow, Leeds, which has been a presence in the city for nearly 25 years, has gone to the extent of expanding its space to accommodate extra vinyl over the last two or three years.
“There are lots more young people buying it, which is the real surprise in terms of when you think of the digital age,” said store owner Ian De-Whytell. “They are buying vinyl because they want to own something tangible rather than something they have streamed – they want something they feel a connection to.”
He said that while the attraction to vinyl is in physical ownership, look and sound quality, record companies have also made clever moves by releasing bundles that include vinyls alongside codes to download digital copies of music online.
Acts such as Royal Blood and the Arctic Monkeys have also helped fuel the vinyl uplift this year, which projections state could see sales reach as high as 1.2million by the end of 2014. That figure dwarfs the 2007 low of just 205,000.
Barry Everard founded the Record Collector store, which now sells both CDs and vinyl, in Broomhill, Sheffield, back in 1978. He feels more and more people are buying vinyl because it’s fashionable, more relatable than mass produced CDs and boasts much larger artwork.
“For years people would come into my vinyl shop and respond like they had made a terrible mistake and fallen into Narnia or something, and then go into the CD shop because that’s what they wanted,” he said. “Now, with the student population here, it’s the opposite.”
Record Collector starred in the 2011 film Last Shop Standing made about Record Store Day – the annual event supporting independent record stores – that has in-part been credited with supporting the vinyl revival.
Growing numbers of initiatives like Universal Music’s 12 Days of Christmas promotion this winter, which will see vinyl singles released by top artists including The Who each day from December 1, are also thought to be playing their part.
BPI spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: “Many of us assumed it had become an obsolete format, but while the flame may have flickered, it never quite went out, and we are now seeing a burgeoning resurgence in demand led by exciting new acts such as Royal Blood that is likely to keep vinyl on our high streets for many more years to come.”
Despite the swelling sales vinyl still only accounts for around two per cent of the UK’s music sales market, while streaming is the fastest growing sector at 10 per cent.
BEST SELLING VINYL ALBUMS
In the year that has seen vinyl album sales conquer the 1million mark for the first time since 1996, a mixed bag of artists have proven popular. There are debuts, classic albums and bands at the top of their game included:
1: Arctic Monkeys – AM
2: Jack White – Lazaretto
3: Pink Floyd – The Endless River
4: Royal Blood – Royal Blood
5: Oasis – Definitely Maybe
6: The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
7: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon
8: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
9: Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin
10: Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin