What goes around comes around in most areas of business, and it’s even more true in the music business. Trends and fads tend to come and go every ten-twenty years, such as the recent resurgence in boy bands.
Well, vinyl albums are definitely on that list.
If you haven’t heard, Jack White’s new album, Lazaretto, sold over 40,000 vinyl copies in the first week. Those are the highest vinyl sales for an album since 1991, which is to say, the highest since the “death” of vinyl.
That said, Lazaretto can’t take all the credit for this resurrection (Sorry). In truth, the “vinyl revival,” is a real thing, with steadily-growing sales numbers each year past 2006. Right now all trends point towards higher vinyl sales for the next few years.
The Strange Return Of Vinyl LPs
Why is vinyl coming back in the music business? In truth, no one’s even entirely sure. Among various reasons that have been suggested:
- The usual (subjective) “vinyl sounds better / warmer” arguments.
- Collectors enjoy the large artwork and physicality of actual albums.
- DJs mixing live on turntables continue to be a draw, especially with EDM rising.
- It’s equivalent to the “slow food” movement: bored hipsters being deliberately retro.
- Vinyl releases often come with limited-edition bonuses not in other packages.
- Postmodern backlash against on-demand digital culture.
In reality, it’s probably a mixture of these elements, but no one’s quite sure about the formula.
Should Your Act Go Vinyl?
It’s complicated. Here are the major factors to consider:
- Pricing: Vinyl pressings are expensive. Can your audience afford it?
- Funding: For that matter, can YOU afford it? (A Kickstarter might work!)
- Bonuses: What can you include, besides the music, to drive sales?
- Audience: Are your listeners interested in vinyl? (Try a quick survey!)
- Distribution: Most vinyl sells through offline indie shops. Do you have hookups?
Basically, if you think you’ve got those questions covered, give it a shot. If not, stick to digital until you grow a larger audience: You’ll reach more listeners, which is the most important goal in the music business.