For years, pundits have wondered what physical form would accompany the ephemeral nothingness of digital downloads. Maybe it would be USB sticks, or t-shirts, or big coffee table books, or strange sculptural totems, or USB sticks shaped like cassette tapes.

Funny story. What if it turned out just to be the vinyl record? What if vinyl, reborn, really is what today’s digital music scene looks like in tangible form?

The counter-narrative, domain of the naysaying cynic, is that the vinyl record is an ill-conceived throwback, a punchline to the joke of valueless music. Vinyl as hipster parody, as Portlandia sketch, is perhaps best embodied by Urban Outfitters claiming recently it was the number one outlet for vinyl sales. That’s the record, surely, at its worst – chain-store pastiche, novelty nostalgia. (Adding insult to injury, Hot Topic ranks #2 in brick and mortar.) And it would lump vinyl alongside Lomography cameras, those plastic photographer toys – lovely as their light leaks are, that might not be where the turntable wants to be for a bright future.

Not so, says Billboard Magazine. In a more detailed breakdown of sales, Urban Outfitters tops physical outlets, but only because the market is so fragmented. The sales leader in the USA when you add in online retail is Amazon – and maybe no coincidence that the biggest vinyl seller is also one of the biggest music download stores. Amazon looks even bigger globally.

But the biggest winner of all is the independent record store. Musicians and DJs, not Millennial mallrats, are the driver, which could see the biggest growth coming from music stores.

Urban Outfitters Doesn’t Sell the Most Vinyl

And this confirms what seemed obvious to many of us. Vinyl records are an extension of, not a reaction to, today’s musical landscape. The same long tail that has been betrayed by the iTunes store, by U2 exclusives (hello, Bono icon for “Artists”), by Google’s major label favoritism, by lame streaming revenues, is served nicely by your corner record shop or a search for rare vinyl releases.

That is, we knew vinyl was growing – but even though it may represent a sliver of the record market, even though that growth is relative to, well, starting from near-death, it’s the independence of the format that’s encouraging. It’s survival in that niche.

Infographic: The LP is Back! | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

Despite the trend in so many retail channels to consolidation, record stores also fiercely independent. As reported in Billboard

“Independent retailers are still the backbone of vinyl’s growth, and they are still selling tons of it,” says one major label distribution executive. “Indies are driving the format’s growth and everyone else is picking up on what they do.”

Though oddly even Whole Foods is getting in on this (um, organic tomatoes and LPs for dinner?), the Guitar Center push seems the most realistic:

“Our plan is to build on our vinyl strategy in 2015 to really capitalize on the resurgence of vinyl — this is definitely an area of music that consumers are telling us they’re more and more interested in,” says Guitar Center’s vp of corporate affairs Christopher Bennett, who says the chain is also seeing an uptick in vinyl turntables as well.”We’re going to be offering a host of different vinyl record players as well in 2015 for the traditional music audiophile, and also for music producers and DJs.”

This, of course, has big implications for the independent producer. It says that the growth of DJing may well prove necessary to the survival of recording. It values, for better or for worse, those releases that can produce physical pressings. (For better: this may help stop the race-to-the-bottom, valueless tyranny of choice produced by overabundance. For worse: you can buy your way in, and if you can’t afford a pressing, you could be left out.)

It also puts the importance of the online transformation in a different place. In this version of the story, social media and hyper-specialization drive people to their local record shop to thumb through vinyl, rather than making those sales happen online.

It’s impossible to say just how long vinyl’s second run will last, though – these are lagging indicators, not leading indicators, necessarily. What it does seem to suggest, though, is that the enthusiast is increasingly the person on the production side of the equation. Your most dedicated fans may shop the same music stores you do. The “anyone can produce, anyone can be a DJ” phenomenon may produce more music, but is also produces more – and more enthusiastic – music consumers.

It’s painfully easy to overstate the importance of vinyl, too. The best article on the dark side of vinyl’s so-called renaissance recently came from Thomas Cox, for Attack Magazine.

Cox outlines the problems with vinyl. First, the numbers are skewed:

…a large proportion of vinyl sales come from things like audiophile reissues of classic albums, Record Store Day novelties and collectors’ editions, dance music has its own issues to deal with.

— and then there are the over-hyped limited edition runs, which serve largely to artificially inflate prices and distract from the use of vinyl as an actual mechanism for music distribution. This might be reasonable were it not for overabundance of the same music in all these forms. As Cox puts it: “We’re inundated with old music being re-released to make money, while new music is sold to as few people as possible to make the hype machine spin.”

We Need to Talk About Vinyl [Attack]

It’s worth reading Cox’s whole article. But as he argues for a meaningful vinyl market over these “gimmicks,” the latest Billboard findings are encouraging. Part of his thesis is that the gimmicky “rare” market online pulls people away from resellers. But healthy reseller numbers seem to suggest that the more organic market, the one actually listening to music on vinyl, is still not only surviving but growing.

To state the blindingly obvious, there’s no one panacea for musicians trying to make a living. This is doubly ironic in light of the constant industry fascination with the high point of the CD, given those grandest sales went to only a select few, leaving the average musician as financially challenged as ever.

But having some dominant physical form is hugely promising. It means there’s some object that can represent what a record is. It makes the musical album endure as social object, as people gather around those record events – you’ll see this next week in Amsterdam at Amsterdam Dance Event, even as DJing is dominated by Traktor and Serato and iPad and CDJ. They’ll be crate digging shoulder to shoulder; they’ll be attending events in which a label remains meaningful. And even if the future turns out to be those sculptural totems, well, we’ll look back and say the MP3 and streaming didn’t kill the album or annihilate the label. And I think that’s probably going to be a good thing.

  • foljs

    “”” Musicians and DJs, not Millennial mallrats, are the driver, which could see the biggest growth coming from music stores.”””

    The two sets are not disjoint, and I’m not sure we’re not still in a Portlandia sketch. Those musicians and their audience are most likely hipster consumers more than anything else.

    (That said, there is a long standing vinyl market for collectors, especially of old blues, psychedelic, ethnic, jazz, etc records, which is not going away).

    • Right, the numbers seem to bear out a fair amount of variety and cross a lot of genres.

      By millennial mallrats I mean people shopping Urban Outfitters, etc. They’re still dwarfed by the collective sales to a variety of independent outlets, without which the bigger distributors also wouldn’t exist.

      Let’s be clear – despite my tongue-in-cheek reference, “hipster” is not a meaningful demographic. And I don’t see anything wrong with people collecting records and then DJing with them, unless you want to resent all consumers?

  • foljs

    “”” Musicians and DJs, not Millennial mallrats, are the driver, which could see the biggest growth coming from music stores.”””

    The two sets are not disjoint, and I’m not sure we’re not still in a Portlandia sketch. Those musicians and their audience are most likely hipster consumers more than anything else.

    (That said, there is a long standing vinyl market for collectors, especially of old blues, psychedelic, ethnic, jazz, etc records, which is not going away).

    • Right, the numbers seem to bear out a fair amount of variety and cross a lot of genres.

      By millennial mallrats I mean people shopping Urban Outfitters, etc. They’re still dwarfed by the collective sales to a variety of independent outlets, without which the bigger distributors also wouldn’t exist.

      Let’s be clear – despite my tongue-in-cheek reference, “hipster” is not a meaningful demographic. And I don’t see anything wrong with people collecting records and then DJing with them, unless you want to resent all consumers?

  • foljs

    “”” Musicians and DJs, not Millennial mallrats, are the driver, which could see the biggest growth coming from music stores.”””

    The two sets are not disjoint, and I’m not sure we’re not still in a Portlandia sketch. Those musicians and their audience are most likely hipster consumers more than anything else.

    (That said, there is a long standing vinyl market for collectors, especially of old blues, psychedelic, ethnic, jazz, etc records, which is not going away).

    • Right, the numbers seem to bear out a fair amount of variety and cross a lot of genres.

      By millennial mallrats I mean people shopping Urban Outfitters, etc. They’re still dwarfed by the collective sales to a variety of independent outlets, without which the bigger distributors also wouldn’t exist.

      Let’s be clear – despite my tongue-in-cheek reference, “hipster” is not a meaningful demographic. And I don’t see anything wrong with people collecting records and then DJing with them, unless you want to resent all consumers?

  • cooptrol

    Vinyl is lovely, but it draws a hard line between musicians that can afford it and the ones who cannot. Musical quality is once more out of the equation in terms of press coverage, difussion, and overall industry status. Too much bad music released on vinyl and getting reviews, too much good music forever lost in the sea of digital. Financial resources shouldn’t determinate the value of artistic expression. I guess it has always been the case.

    • I share that same concern.

      On the other hand, a vinyl release is surely not a prerequisite to getting a review. 😉 PR really benefits from sending journalists digital copies!

      And labels wouldn’t be pressing releases if they weren’t making back their money. So just because something requires capital doesn’t automatically eliminate merit!

      • cooptrol

        Agreed, maybe I wrongly attributed the lack of press coverage of a lot of releases I know of to the fact they were digital. What I am more sure of is that if a journalist receives a hard copy the chances he will review it are way higher than him getting a download link. I think music journalism is heavily biased toward physical. What do you think?

        • I don’t think there are a lot of *vinyl* review copies going out. These are nearly all digital.

          • cooptrol

            Of course, what i mean is that journalists need to filter everyday’s music avalanche and the first filter they use is maybe physical vs. digital, unless it comes from a well established or hyped up label or artist. Labels have always been the music filters, but now there are too many and the typical is to filter them by medium first. Physical labels are ‘more serious’ in the global unconscious. All this imho and of course doesn’t represent an infallible guarantee.

          • Ha – honestly? I don’t think journos are paying that much mind (despite what I said in the article). Actually, if anything, being out there in events may matter more to the journalists.

            The physical format may matter more to fans. It’s an additional channel you connect with people. But this raises some interesting questions. I’ll ask. And frankly, I’ll ask journalists if it is something in their consciousness.

          • Michael Fremer

            your cynicism is sad. i feel for you. Really

          • Michael Fremer

            That’s not 100% true but in any case if the digitally sourced vinyl record is cut from a high resolution file it will sound better than the CD version and CERTAINLY better than the MP3 version. And if the DAC used to convert the file for cutting is better than the one at home, there’s a good chance the record will sound better.

    • vroom lao phen

      I will say that I feel like I was listening to less music more intently when I had to buy physical albums. I didn’t have much money, so I had to be veeery careful, but then I listened to those things for weeks.

  • cooptrol

    Vinyl is lovely, but it draws a hard line between musicians that can afford it and the ones who cannot. Musical quality is once more out of the equation in terms of press coverage, difussion, and overall industry status. Too much bad music released on vinyl and getting reviews, too much good music forever lost in the sea of digital. Financial resources shouldn’t determinate the value of artistic expression. I guess it has always been the case.

    • I share that same concern.

      On the other hand, a vinyl release is surely not a prerequisite to getting a review. 😉 PR really benefits from sending journalists digital copies!

      And labels wouldn’t be pressing releases if they weren’t making back their money. So just because something requires capital doesn’t automatically eliminate merit!

      • cooptrol

        Agreed, maybe I wrongly attributed the lack of press coverage of a lot of releases I know of to the fact they were digital. What I am more sure of is that if a journalist receives a hard copy the chances he will review it are way higher than him getting a download link. I think music journalism is heavily biased toward physical. What do you think?

        • I don’t think there are a lot of *vinyl* review copies going out. These are nearly all digital.

          • cooptrol

            Of course, what i mean is that journalists need to filter everyday’s music avalanche and the first filter they use is maybe physical vs. digital, unless it comes from a well established or hyped up label or artist. Labels have always been the music filters, but now there are too many and the typical is to filter them by medium first. Physical labels are ‘more serious’ in the global unconscious. All this imho and of course doesn’t represent an infallible guarantee.

          • Ha – honestly? I don’t think journos are paying that much mind (despite what I said in the article). Actually, if anything, being out there in events may matter more to the journalists.

            The physical format may matter more to fans. It’s an additional channel you connect with people. But this raises some interesting questions. I’ll ask. And frankly, I’ll ask journalists if it is something in their consciousness.

          • Michael Fremer

            your cynicism is sad. i feel for you. Really

          • Michael Fremer

            That’s not 100% true but in any case if the digitally sourced vinyl record is cut from a high resolution file it will sound better than the CD version and CERTAINLY better than the MP3 version. And if the DAC used to convert the file for cutting is better than the one at home, there’s a good chance the record will sound better.

    • vroom lao phen

      I will say that I feel like I was listening to less music more intently when I had to buy physical albums. I didn’t have much money, so I had to be veeery careful, but then I listened to those things for weeks.

  • cooptrol

    Vinyl is lovely, but it draws a hard line between musicians that can afford it and the ones who cannot. Musical quality is once more out of the equation in terms of press coverage, difussion, and overall industry status. Too much bad music released on vinyl and getting reviews, too much good music forever lost in the sea of digital. Financial resources shouldn’t determinate the value of artistic expression. I guess it has always been the case.

    • I share that same concern.

      On the other hand, a vinyl release is surely not a prerequisite to getting a review. 😉 PR really benefits from sending journalists digital copies!

      And labels wouldn’t be pressing releases if they weren’t making back their money. So just because something requires capital doesn’t automatically eliminate merit!

      • cooptrol

        Agreed, maybe I wrongly attributed the lack of press coverage of a lot of releases I know of to the fact they were digital. What I am more sure of is that if a journalist receives a hard copy the chances he will review it are way higher than him getting a download link. I think music journalism is heavily biased toward physical. What do you think?

        • I don’t think there are a lot of *vinyl* review copies going out. These are nearly all digital.

          • cooptrol

            Of course, what i mean is that journalists need to filter everyday’s music avalanche and the first filter they use is maybe physical vs. digital, unless it comes from a well established or hyped up label or artist. Labels have always been the music filters, but now there are too many and the typical is to filter them by medium first. Physical labels are ‘more serious’ in the global unconscious. All this imho and of course doesn’t represent an infallible guarantee.

          • Ha – honestly? I don’t think journos are paying that much mind (despite what I said in the article). Actually, if anything, being out there in events may matter more to the journalists.

            The physical format may matter more to fans. It’s an additional channel you connect with people. But this raises some interesting questions. I’ll ask. And frankly, I’ll ask journalists if it is something in their consciousness.

          • Michael Fremer

            your cynicism is sad. i feel for you. Really

          • Michael Fremer

            That’s not 100% true but in any case if the digitally sourced vinyl record is cut from a high resolution file it will sound better than the CD version and CERTAINLY better than the MP3 version. And if the DAC used to convert the file for cutting is better than the one at home, there’s a good chance the record will sound better.

    • vroom lao phen

      I will say that I feel like I was listening to less music more intently when I had to buy physical albums. I didn’t have much money, so I had to be veeery careful, but then I listened to those things for weeks.

  • Kinetic Monkey

    This is a lovely article to read because I love vinyl. I’ve no idea why, but I really like listening to stuff on expensive, oversized plastic discs. I don’t really care if it’s engaging for other people or good for the “music industry” or the “artist”. I just love the experience.

    • You don’t like polymers?

      Or Polyvinyl Chloride?

  • Kinetic Monkey

    This is a lovely article to read because I love vinyl. I’ve no idea why, but I really like listening to stuff on expensive, oversized plastic discs. I don’t really care if it’s engaging for other people or good for the “music industry” or the “artist”. I just love the experience.

    • You don’t like polymers?

      Or Polyvinyl Chloride?

  • This is a lovely article to read because I love vinyl. I’ve no idea why, but I really like listening to stuff on expensive, oversized plastic discs. I don’t really care if it’s engaging for other people or good for the “music industry” or the “artist”. I just love the experience.

    • You don’t like polymers?

      Or Polyvinyl Chloride?

  • experimentaldog

    Good points Peter. I think some details tend to be forgotten in the vinyl discussion including Cox’s article. The medium itself is a bit of the message, but the reality of how the medium works and provides a different musical experience gets lost sometimes. Live music is where we were at prior to the phonograph and most earlier recordings tried to capture a live experience. The irony being that the instruments were not recorded in a typical live situation, solo instrumentalists introduced vibrato to compensate for wow/flutter and ensembles got shoved together to play close to a cone in order to carve sound-waves into grooves. The sound people heard was not typical of a live event, but influenced the way people played based on what they heard on records.

    When tape opened up the option to overdub and multitrack many started to imitate solos that were an amalgamation of many overdubs rather than a live representation of a one take performance. Live music recreating the sound from records rather than records recreating the sounds of live music. David Byrne discusses this in better detail in his book “How Music Works”.

    The medium of vinyl is kind of interesting based on it’s limitations too. The fact that pop songs are limited to shorter lengths based on the size of a 45, classic LPs having to keep a limit of bass-heavy tracks because the bass grooves take up more much space, listeners listening to a full side of record by denied a next track button etc. Some people want to write music that reflects the limitations of the medium regardless of the quality debate.

    Any medium may also offer aesthetic values that are key to the musical experience. I find music that embraces the medium tends to be quite interesting. The sound of warbley music purposely on vinyl to exploit it’s subtle analogue flavours, the sound of digital tracks that exploit a clean-cut sound to allow grainy textures to shine. We have choices with the way we experience sound. We can chose how we want to experience them, yet some artists intended to exploit the limitations and quirks of the medium. Paintings on a canvas, they also look good in JPEG, but the reason it’s edges are only so big is because the artist used the limits of the medium.

    I’m surprised that more people aren’t producing music that exploit other limits of other mediums. More diffused surround pieces or binaural albums that take advantage of surround and the fact that so many people are buying circumaural headphones.

    Exploiting the medium seems key to making an interesting listen.

  • experimentaldog

    Good points Peter. I think some details tend to be forgotten in the vinyl discussion including Cox’s article. The medium itself is a bit of the message, but the reality of how the medium works and provides a different musical experience gets lost sometimes. Live music is where we were at prior to the phonograph and most earlier recordings tried to capture a live experience. The irony being that the instruments were not recorded in a typical live situation, solo instrumentalists introduced vibrato to compensate for wow/flutter and ensembles got shoved together to play close to a cone in order to carve sound-waves into grooves. The sound people heard was not typical of a live event, but influenced the way people played based on what they heard on records.

    When tape opened up the option to overdub and multitrack many started to imitate solos that were an amalgamation of many overdubs rather than a live representation of a one take performance. Live music recreating the sound from records rather than records recreating the sounds of live music. David Byrne discusses this in better detail in his book “How Music Works”.

    The medium of vinyl is kind of interesting based on it’s limitations too. The fact that pop songs are limited to shorter lengths based on the size of a 45, classic LPs having to keep a limit of bass-heavy tracks because the bass grooves take up more much space, listeners listening to a full side of record by denied a next track button etc. Some people want to write music that reflects the limitations of the medium regardless of the quality debate.

    Any medium may also offer aesthetic values that are key to the musical experience. I find music that embraces the medium tends to be quite interesting. The sound of warbley music purposely on vinyl to exploit it’s subtle analogue flavours, the sound of digital tracks that exploit a clean-cut sound to allow grainy textures to shine. We have choices with the way we experience sound. We can chose how we want to experience them, yet some artists intended to exploit the limitations and quirks of the medium. Paintings on a canvas, they also look good in JPEG, but the reason it’s edges are only so big is because the artist used the limits of the medium.

    I’m surprised that more people aren’t producing music that exploit other limits of other mediums. More diffused surround pieces or binaural albums that take advantage of surround and the fact that so many people are buying circumaural headphones.

    Exploiting the medium seems key to making an interesting listen.

  • experimentaldog

    Good points Peter. I think some details tend to be forgotten in the vinyl discussion including Cox’s article. The medium itself is a bit of the message, but the reality of how the medium works and provides a different musical experience gets lost sometimes. Live music is where we were at prior to the phonograph and most earlier recordings tried to capture a live experience. The irony being that the instruments were not recorded in a typical live situation, solo instrumentalists introduced vibrato to compensate for wow/flutter and ensembles got shoved together to play close to a cone in order to carve sound-waves into grooves. The sound people heard was not typical of a live event, but influenced the way people played based on what they heard on records.

    When tape opened up the option to overdub and multitrack many started to imitate solos that were an amalgamation of many overdubs rather than a live representation of a one take performance. Live music recreating the sound from records rather than records recreating the sounds of live music. David Byrne discusses this in better detail in his book “How Music Works”.

    The medium of vinyl is kind of interesting based on it’s limitations too. The fact that pop songs are limited to shorter lengths based on the size of a 45, classic LPs having to keep a limit of bass-heavy tracks because the bass grooves take up more much space, listeners listening to a full side of record by denied a next track button etc. Some people want to write music that reflects the limitations of the medium regardless of the quality debate.

    Any medium may also offer aesthetic values that are key to the musical experience. I find music that embraces the medium tends to be quite interesting. The sound of warbley music purposely on vinyl to exploit it’s subtle analogue flavours, the sound of digital tracks that exploit a clean-cut sound to allow grainy textures to shine. We have choices with the way we experience sound. We can chose how we want to experience them, yet some artists intended to exploit the limitations and quirks of the medium. Paintings on a canvas, they also look good in JPEG, but the reason it’s edges are only so big is because the artist used the limits of the medium.

    I’m surprised that more people aren’t producing music that exploit other limits of other mediums. More diffused surround pieces or binaural albums that take advantage of surround and the fact that so many people are buying circumaural headphones.

    Exploiting the medium seems key to making an interesting listen.

  • LA

    “lovely as their light leaks are”… haha, brilliant Peter.

    last time i checked (just kidding, i didn’t really check) the only record Urban Outfitters sells is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. amazing record though if you have to sell just one. 🙂

    this news excites me though. records are the awesomest.

  • LA

    “lovely as their light leaks are”… haha, brilliant Peter.

    last time i checked (just kidding, i didn’t really check) the only record Urban Outfitters sells is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. amazing record though if you have to sell just one. 🙂

    this news excites me though. records are the awesomest.

  • LA

    “lovely as their light leaks are”… haha, brilliant Peter.

    last time i checked (just kidding, i didn’t really check) the only record Urban Outfitters sells is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. amazing record though if you have to sell just one. 🙂

    this news excites me though. records are the awesomest.

  • PaulDavisTheFirst

    Material fetishists, one and all. Chez Davis has about 3000 vinyl albums and 300 or so 12″ singles. If I could wave a magic wand and have appropriate digitized versions of all of them, they’d be gone in an instant. For those who want material beyond the music, the internet can offer a vastly richer experience than the cardboard cover of a vinyl record. For me, its all about the music, and I’d happily be rid of the lot of them if I could do so without losing the music.

    • I’m not necessarily arguing for vinyl.

      The most popular approach right now is dual release – digital, vinyl. Everyone’s happy. I know there are vinyl exclusives, yes, but… in much of my music inbox, that seems an outlier, actually.

    • kobamoto rin

      do you understand the difference between looking at art on the internet and going to a museum to view art, there is quite a distinction and this one and the same with vinyl. Now of course museums don’t appeal to everyone nothing wrong with that but this analogy should make the issue of value and vinyl clear.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Sure, it is rather similar to the difference between hanging an actual painting on your wall or mounting your copy of an album cover in a frame, knowing that there are 24,376 other copies of it worldwide.

        Vinyl is a poor medium for audio reproduction, by any metric (longevity, durability, fidelity). Album covers are cool, but are also mass-produced impressions of art like posters, which though pleasant or even exciting, only vaguely touch on the possibilities present in a good online presentation.

        ps. we have 4 framed album covers on our living room wall.

        • Michael Fremer

          You must have a crappy turntable. You really are a bitter ignorant person. -editor analogplanet.com

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I have a Music Hall MMF-5, one of the nicer turntables for around $500, with a NAD preamp and NAD power amp, feeding a choice of speakers but typically some KEF Q10s.

            I’m not bitter and I’m not ignorant.

          • Michael Fremer

            Paul when you call others “material fetishists” bitterness and arrogance come to mind. As for “studying the curves” I am not being arrogant when I write that I have forgotten more than you will ever know about vinyl playback. With a better cartridge and proper setup and a better phono preamp you might draw a different conclusion.

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I would have hoped that people reading + commenting on a piece posted to CDM about a “Vinyl Resurgence” would be able to understand a remark like “material fetishists” a little differently.

            I have no idea why you find it appropriate to second guess what I know about vinyl versus digital. I asked you if you had studied vinyl frequency response curves. You could say “yes, I have”, and we could leave it at that.

          • Michael Fremer

            Your projection is astonishing! You are the one instructing me about “vinyl curves”. And you accuse me of “second guessing” what you know about vinyl?

            I invite you to visit analogplanet.com look under “votes” and find and download the file labeled “gift”. That will give you a good idea of what vinyl is really capable of producing.

            I am not sure why you would see a comment like “material fetishists” taken any other way other than as a snide attack. I’ve been through this since the introduction of the CD, which has a narrower frequency response than vinyl and has many audible problems.

            People who are buying vinyl are doing so because they prefer the sound and the overall experience. They think it sounds more like live music. All recording is illusory. Choose your poison. I’ve sat in on mastering sessions and compared tape to lacquer cuts and I am sure you couldn’t tell one from the other.

            I heard the mono master tape of “The Beatles” as the lacquers were being cut and then I heard the final result. On a good system, the results are remarkably similar and far superior to the mono CD box set. It is not even close.

            The vinyl cutting system has its problems but so does 16 bit 44.1k digital. High resolution 24 bit audio is far better but you can be sure there are the usual suspects claiming CD “perfection” and that hi-rez is a ‘scam’.

            Meanwhile vinyl continues its comeback and not because of Record Store Day collectors, or hipsters or any of the other rear guard explanations. I get emails daily from the returnees and it’s because of the sound….

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I asked you “Have you studied the frequency response curves of vinyl?”. I didn’t assume anything about you whatsoever. You didn’t answer that question, other than to make a set of assertions about analog recordings on vinyl, none of which actually address the frequency response curve question at all. I think you’ve told me that you have indeed studied these things and concluded that there is no issue there that would concern you.

            Simultaneously, you have presumed that you have some idea who I am, what equipment I use or have used, how I am involved with audio, the recording industry, vinyl, record stores. You’ve boasted that you know more than [I’ll] ever forget about important aspects of all this.

            And then you proceed to claim that I am arrogant.

            If you had been on CDM for as long as me, you’d perhaps understand my remark about “material fetishists” a little more clearly. But perhaps not. Oh well.

    • Michael Fremer

      Digital preserves music the way formaldehyde preserves frogs: you kill it and it lasts forever. For me it’s all about the music too. As it is for most vinyl buyers. It’s easy to digitize your music Paul, but do it at high resolution, then sell your records and stop bitching about those who like both the superior sound of analog and the vinyl playback experience. And stop the name calling.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Have you studied the frequency response curves of vinyl? It is a really poor medium indeed compared to anything except the worst failures of digital.

        I do not want to deny you the experience of listening to analog and/or vinyl – many people like the sound and they are welcome to continue with it. However, claiming that it is actually more accurate or whatever is just demonstrably false. Look, even I have some albums where I prefer the sound of the vinyl copy, but I don’t kid myself that it is a more accurate recording of what the performers did that day.

        All attempts to record and playback sound alter it in some way. Some people like the particular kinds of alterations that some of those techniques introduce, which I think is perfectly fine and that they should carry on as they wish to. I’d be happy to read “I love the sound of vinyl” all day long, but I will not sit by when people try to claim that “vinyl is a better medium than digital”, because that just isn’t true in any objective sense, and by almost all measurements it is less accurate than almost you could do with modern digital techniques.

        • Michael Fremer

          You said it best when you said that all techniques alter sound especially digitizations. I will argue that vinyl is a far superior medium than 16 bit 44K CD which was flawed from the start. But this isn’t the venue. Your belief system currently collides with facts on the ground which is why you feel it necessary to call “materialists” an “fetishists” the people migrating from digital to vinyl but I suggest it’s the sound they, their ears and especially their brains (which beat every measuring device created by man) prefer. I hear all day from those people. BTW: the MMF 5 made by my friend Roy Hall is a very nice turntable but believe me you have no idea what great vinyl playback sounds like or how linear it can sound….

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Once again, you are making all kinds of judgements about who I am, what audio equipment I’ve used in the past, etc. etc. I have no idea why you find this appropriate.

  • PaulDavisTheFirst

    Material fetishists, one and all. Chez Davis has about 3000 vinyl albums and 300 or so 12″ singles. If I could wave a magic wand and have appropriate digitized versions of all of them, they’d be gone in an instant. For those who want material beyond the music, the internet can offer a vastly richer experience than the cardboard cover of a vinyl record. For me, its all about the music, and I’d happily be rid of the lot of them if I could do so without losing the music.

    • I’m not necessarily arguing for vinyl.

      The most popular approach right now is dual release – digital, vinyl. Everyone’s happy. I know there are vinyl exclusives, yes, but… in much of my music inbox, that seems an outlier, actually.

    • kobamoto rin

      do you understand the difference between looking at art on the internet and going to a museum to view art, there is quite a distinction and this one and the same with vinyl. Now of course museums don’t appeal to everyone nothing wrong with that but this analogy should make the issue of value and vinyl clear.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Sure, it is rather similar to the difference between hanging an actual painting on your wall or mounting your copy of an album cover in a frame, knowing that there are 24,376 other copies of it worldwide.

        Vinyl is a poor medium for audio reproduction, by any metric (longevity, durability, fidelity). Album covers are cool, but are also mass-produced impressions of art like posters, which though pleasant or even exciting, only vaguely touch on the possibilities present in a good online presentation.

        ps. we have 4 framed album covers on our living room wall.

        • Michael Fremer

          You must have a crappy turntable. You really are a bitter ignorant person. -editor analogplanet.com

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I have a Music Hall MMF-5, one of the nicer turntables for around $500, with a NAD preamp and NAD power amp, feeding a choice of speakers but typically some KEF Q10s.

            I’m not bitter and I’m not ignorant.

          • Michael Fremer

            Paul when you call others “material fetishists” bitterness and arrogance come to mind. As for “studying the curves” I am not being arrogant when I write that I have forgotten more than you will ever know about vinyl playback. With a better cartridge and proper setup and a better phono preamp you might draw a different conclusion.

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I would have hoped that people reading + commenting on a piece posted to CDM about a “Vinyl Resurgence” would be able to understand a remark like “material fetishists” a little differently.

            I have no idea why you find it appropriate to second guess what I know about vinyl versus digital. I asked you if you had studied vinyl frequency response curves. You could say “yes, I have”, and we could leave it at that.

          • Michael Fremer

            Your projection is astonishing! You are the one instructing me about “vinyl curves”. And you accuse me of “second guessing” what you know about vinyl?

            I invite you to visit analogplanet.com look under “votes” and find and download the file labeled “gift”. That will give you a good idea of what vinyl is really capable of producing.

            I am not sure why you would see a comment like “material fetishists” taken any other way other than as a snide attack. I’ve been through this since the introduction of the CD, which has a narrower frequency response than vinyl and has many audible problems.

            People who are buying vinyl are doing so because they prefer the sound and the overall experience. They think it sounds more like live music. All recording is illusory. Choose your poison. I’ve sat in on mastering sessions and compared tape to lacquer cuts and I am sure you couldn’t tell one from the other.

            I heard the mono master tape of “The Beatles” as the lacquers were being cut and then I heard the final result. On a good system, the results are remarkably similar and far superior to the mono CD box set. It is not even close.

            The vinyl cutting system has its problems but so does 16 bit 44.1k digital. High resolution 24 bit audio is far better but you can be sure there are the usual suspects claiming CD “perfection” and that hi-rez is a ‘scam’.

            Meanwhile vinyl continues its comeback and not because of Record Store Day collectors, or hipsters or any of the other rear guard explanations. I get emails daily from the returnees and it’s because of the sound….

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I asked you “Have you studied the frequency response curves of vinyl?”. I didn’t assume anything about you whatsoever. You didn’t answer that question, other than to make a set of assertions about analog recordings on vinyl, none of which actually address the frequency response curve question at all. I think you’ve told me that you have indeed studied these things and concluded that there is no issue there that would concern you.

            Simultaneously, you have presumed that you have some idea who I am, what equipment I use or have used, how I am involved with audio, the recording industry, vinyl, record stores. You’ve boasted that you know more than [I’ll] ever forget about important aspects of all this.

            And then you proceed to claim that I am arrogant.

            If you had been on CDM for as long as me, you’d perhaps understand my remark about “material fetishists” a little more clearly. But perhaps not. Oh well.

    • Michael Fremer

      Digital preserves music the way formaldehyde preserves frogs: you kill it and it lasts forever. For me it’s all about the music too. As it is for most vinyl buyers. It’s easy to digitize your music Paul, but do it at high resolution, then sell your records and stop bitching about those who like both the superior sound of analog and the vinyl playback experience. And stop the name calling.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Have you studied the frequency response curves of vinyl? It is a really poor medium indeed compared to anything except the worst failures of digital.

        I do not want to deny you the experience of listening to analog and/or vinyl – many people like the sound and they are welcome to continue with it. However, claiming that it is actually more accurate or whatever is just demonstrably false. Look, even I have some albums where I prefer the sound of the vinyl copy, but I don’t kid myself that it is a more accurate recording of what the performers did that day.

        All attempts to record and playback sound alter it in some way. Some people like the particular kinds of alterations that some of those techniques introduce, which I think is perfectly fine and that they should carry on as they wish to. I’d be happy to read “I love the sound of vinyl” all day long, but I will not sit by when people try to claim that “vinyl is a better medium than digital”, because that just isn’t true in any objective sense, and by almost all measurements it is less accurate than almost you could do with modern digital techniques.

        • Michael Fremer

          You said it best when you said that all techniques alter sound especially digitizations. I will argue that vinyl is a far superior medium than 16 bit 44K CD which was flawed from the start. But this isn’t the venue. Your belief system currently collides with facts on the ground which is why you feel it necessary to call “materialists” an “fetishists” the people migrating from digital to vinyl but I suggest it’s the sound they, their ears and especially their brains (which beat every measuring device created by man) prefer. I hear all day from those people. BTW: the MMF 5 made by my friend Roy Hall is a very nice turntable but believe me you have no idea what great vinyl playback sounds like or how linear it can sound….

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Once again, you are making all kinds of judgements about who I am, what audio equipment I’ve used in the past, etc. etc. I have no idea why you find this appropriate.

  • PaulDavisTheFirst

    Material fetishists, one and all. Chez Davis has about 3000 vinyl albums and 300 or so 12″ singles. If I could wave a magic wand and have appropriate digitized versions of all of them, they’d be gone in an instant. For those who want material beyond the music, the internet can offer a vastly richer experience than the cardboard cover of a vinyl record. For me, its all about the music, and I’d happily be rid of the lot of them if I could do so without losing the music.

    • I’m not necessarily arguing for vinyl.

      The most popular approach right now is dual release – digital, vinyl. Everyone’s happy. I know there are vinyl exclusives, yes, but… in much of my music inbox, that seems an outlier, actually.

    • kobamoto rin

      do you understand the difference between looking at art on the internet and going to a museum to view art, there is quite a distinction and this one and the same with vinyl. Now of course museums don’t appeal to everyone nothing wrong with that but this analogy should make the issue of value and vinyl clear.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Sure, it is rather similar to the difference between hanging an actual painting on your wall or mounting your copy of an album cover in a frame, knowing that there are 24,376 other copies of it worldwide.

        Vinyl is a poor medium for audio reproduction, by any metric (longevity, durability, fidelity). Album covers are cool, but are also mass-produced impressions of art like posters, which though pleasant or even exciting, only vaguely touch on the possibilities present in a good online presentation.

        ps. we have 4 framed album covers on our living room wall.

        • Michael Fremer

          You must have a crappy turntable. You really are a bitter ignorant person. -editor analogplanet.com

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I have a Music Hall MMF-5, one of the nicer turntables for around $500, with a NAD preamp and NAD power amp, feeding a choice of speakers but typically some KEF Q10s.

            I’m not bitter and I’m not ignorant.

          • Michael Fremer

            Paul when you call others “material fetishists” bitterness and arrogance come to mind. As for “studying the curves” I am not being arrogant when I write that I have forgotten more than you will ever know about vinyl playback. With a better cartridge and proper setup and a better phono preamp you might draw a different conclusion.

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I would have hoped that people reading + commenting on a piece posted to CDM about a “Vinyl Resurgence” would be able to understand a remark like “material fetishists” a little differently.

            I have no idea why you find it appropriate to second guess what I know about vinyl versus digital. I asked you if you had studied vinyl frequency response curves. You could say “yes, I have”, and we could leave it at that.

          • Michael Fremer

            Your projection is astonishing! You are the one instructing me about “vinyl curves”. And you accuse me of “second guessing” what you know about vinyl?

            I invite you to visit analogplanet.com look under “votes” and find and download the file labeled “gift”. That will give you a good idea of what vinyl is really capable of producing.

            I am not sure why you would see a comment like “material fetishists” taken any other way other than as a snide attack. I’ve been through this since the introduction of the CD, which has a narrower frequency response than vinyl and has many audible problems.

            People who are buying vinyl are doing so because they prefer the sound and the overall experience. They think it sounds more like live music. All recording is illusory. Choose your poison. I’ve sat in on mastering sessions and compared tape to lacquer cuts and I am sure you couldn’t tell one from the other.

            I heard the mono master tape of “The Beatles” as the lacquers were being cut and then I heard the final result. On a good system, the results are remarkably similar and far superior to the mono CD box set. It is not even close.

            The vinyl cutting system has its problems but so does 16 bit 44.1k digital. High resolution 24 bit audio is far better but you can be sure there are the usual suspects claiming CD “perfection” and that hi-rez is a ‘scam’.

            Meanwhile vinyl continues its comeback and not because of Record Store Day collectors, or hipsters or any of the other rear guard explanations. I get emails daily from the returnees and it’s because of the sound….

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            I asked you “Have you studied the frequency response curves of vinyl?”. I didn’t assume anything about you whatsoever. You didn’t answer that question, other than to make a set of assertions about analog recordings on vinyl, none of which actually address the frequency response curve question at all. I think you’ve told me that you have indeed studied these things and concluded that there is no issue there that would concern you.

            Simultaneously, you have presumed that you have some idea who I am, what equipment I use or have used, how I am involved with audio, the recording industry, vinyl, record stores. You’ve boasted that you know more than [I’ll] ever forget about important aspects of all this.

            And then you proceed to claim that I am arrogant.

            If you had been on CDM for as long as me, you’d perhaps understand my remark about “material fetishists” a little more clearly. But perhaps not. Oh well.

    • Michael Fremer

      Digital preserves music the way formaldehyde preserves frogs: you kill it and it lasts forever. For me it’s all about the music too. As it is for most vinyl buyers. It’s easy to digitize your music Paul, but do it at high resolution, then sell your records and stop bitching about those who like both the superior sound of analog and the vinyl playback experience. And stop the name calling.

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Have you studied the frequency response curves of vinyl? It is a really poor medium indeed compared to anything except the worst failures of digital.

        I do not want to deny you the experience of listening to analog and/or vinyl – many people like the sound and they are welcome to continue with it. However, claiming that it is actually more accurate or whatever is just demonstrably false. Look, even I have some albums where I prefer the sound of the vinyl copy, but I don’t kid myself that it is a more accurate recording of what the performers did that day.

        All attempts to record and playback sound alter it in some way. Some people like the particular kinds of alterations that some of those techniques introduce, which I think is perfectly fine and that they should carry on as they wish to. I’d be happy to read “I love the sound of vinyl” all day long, but I will not sit by when people try to claim that “vinyl is a better medium than digital”, because that just isn’t true in any objective sense, and by almost all measurements it is less accurate than almost you could do with modern digital techniques.

        • Michael Fremer

          You said it best when you said that all techniques alter sound especially digitizations. I will argue that vinyl is a far superior medium than 16 bit 44K CD which was flawed from the start. But this isn’t the venue. Your belief system currently collides with facts on the ground which is why you feel it necessary to call “materialists” an “fetishists” the people migrating from digital to vinyl but I suggest it’s the sound they, their ears and especially their brains (which beat every measuring device created by man) prefer. I hear all day from those people. BTW: the MMF 5 made by my friend Roy Hall is a very nice turntable but believe me you have no idea what great vinyl playback sounds like or how linear it can sound….

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Once again, you are making all kinds of judgements about who I am, what audio equipment I’ve used in the past, etc. etc. I have no idea why you find this appropriate.

  • Nagasaki Nightrider

    I read that Attack Mag article and others like it recently that make the point that limited editions and exclusives are being produced to fuel things like Record Store Day and elitists who favor exclusivity over quality. The quote you provide here sums up that view well: “new music is sold to as few people as possible to make the hype machine spin.” I emphatically call bullshit on this. It sounds like sour grapes from people looking for some ill-defined perfect balance of affordable quality and all-inclusiveness.

    Cox goes on to say, “…a large proportion of vinyl sales come from things
    like audiophile
    reissues of classic albums, Record Store Day novelties and collectors’
    editions, dance music has its own issues to deal with.” So what? People
    want it, so it gets made. Most people don’t have hugely adventurous
    tastes. If all this stuff went away, would it be better for small indie
    labels? I think not.

    The market climate is such that vast numbers of people globally do not place enough value on music to pay for it. Where’s the harm in generating some premium product for those that do? Please note that I’m largely ignoring the endless reissue cycle of remastered, 180 gram Beatles/Stones/Pearl Jam/Whoever-the-Fuck because this is not news. Ever heard of the CD boxset? This is a continuation of the entirely predictable business model of mainstream media companies, plain and simple. This same approach of repackaging old content extends (minus the premium price) to comic book franchise movies and the lame SNL character spin off movies of yore. Maybe it sucks, but it doesn’t have much to do with vinyl.

    So, vinyl has enjoyed a healthy resurgence in the past decade and majors have jumped on the bandwagon. That
    doesn’t necessarily mean that if there were half as many of these
    allegedly lame and unworthy artists releasing records that sales of titles from the unknown, put-upon, penniless, and more deserving artists
    would rise proportionally. But that seems to be what some of these people
    moaning about the imagined circle jerk conspiracy between labels that can
    afford to produce vinyl and their aloof hipster fans are suggesting.

    Can it not be the case that labels (now, I’m talking about smaller independent labels) who care enough to produce vinyl because the label, the fan, and the artist all benefit in ways that are apart from feeling smugly cool about themselves and fleecing or freezing out idiot punters? These things don’t appear in runs of 10,000+ or whatever because the numbers aren’t there to support that kind of manufacturing and distribution investment. Not because labels are trying to fuck the “real” fans over. Vinyl is still a fetish object to a large degree. It isn’t a practical necessity.

    Even if there is some tiny, flavor of the month dance music label head rubbing his hands together and laughing while shipping out only 99 copies of the latest goth techno banger to the 20 shops worldwide he deems worthy of the release, who fucking cares? Buy it if you can find it or don’t. Bitching about limited edition art is an entirely futile pursuit.

    Meanwhile, what I mostly hear from people who actually run small labels say is that, while the situation has improved, it’s nothing like it was in the heyday of vinyl DJ’ing, for instance, before digital took off. I even heard an interview with the guy who founded popular indie label Merge say this. Broadly speaking, vinyl is still very much a break-even proposition at best for smaller labels that helps keeps them in the game and their artists on the road gigging for their real living. And, let’s face it, while deep pocketed labels can maybe afford to put out shitty records, the expense and complexity of generating vinyl releases does undeniably weed out a lot of average music. If you want to imagine some kind of doomsday scenario where the chaff outweighs the wheat to an even larger degree, imagine if everyone got a free vinyl release when they signed up for Soundcloud or Bandcamp. The value of all releases plummet, worthy and otherwise, would plummet because we’d be wading through piles of this garbage in the streets.

    Anyone who has read my infrequent posts here knows that I can complain for no reason with the best of them. However, I’ve been buying vinyl for more than 20 years, and it certainly was no easier back in the day to find smaller releases on vinyl or CD if it didn’t come from major label or huge indie. If one of the few decent shops in my area didn’t have it in the pre-digital era, the only solution was mail order or a car or plane trip. Now, I can get whatever I want more or less in some format with a little digging and an outlay of cash. If there is a headline in all of this, I’d say it’s, “Enjoy the vinyl surge while it lasts.” You touched on this, Peter, with your comment about broader industry trends measured by SoundScan not being leading indicators. The pendulum may swing the other way at some point, so let’s focus on supporting the artists we love by investing in whatever playback media we have at our disposal.

  • Nagasaki Nightrider

    I read that Attack Mag article and others like it recently that make the point that limited editions and exclusives are being produced to fuel things like Record Store Day and elitists who favor exclusivity over quality. The quote you provide here sums up that view well: “new music is sold to as few people as possible to make the hype machine spin.” I emphatically call bullshit on this. It sounds like sour grapes from people looking for some ill-defined perfect balance of affordable quality and all-inclusiveness.

    Cox goes on to say, “…a large proportion of vinyl sales come from things like audiophile reissues of classic albums, Record Store Day novelties and collectors’ editions, dance music has its own issues to deal with.” So what? People want it, so it gets made. Most people don’t have hugely adventurous tastes. If all this stuff went away, would it be better for small indie labels? I think not.

    The market climate is such that vast numbers of people globally do not place enough value on music to pay for it. Where’s the harm in generating some premium product for those that do? Please note that I’m largely ignoring the endless reissue cycle of remastered, 180 gram Beatles/Stones/Pearl Jam/Whoever-the-Fuck because this is not news. Ever heard of the CD boxset? This is a continuation of the entirely predictable business model of mainstream media companies, plain and simple. This same approach of repackaging old content extends (minus the premium price) to comic book franchise movies and the lame SNL character spin off movies of yore. Maybe it sucks, but it doesn’t have much to do with vinyl.

    So, vinyl has enjoyed a healthy resurgence in the past decade and majors have jumped on the bandwagon. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if there were half as many of these
    allegedly lame and unworthy artists releasing records that sales of titles from the unknown, put-upon, penniless, and more deserving artists would rise proportionally. But that seems to be what some of these people moaning about the imagined circle jerk conspiracy between labels that can afford to produce vinyl and their aloof hipster fans are suggesting.

    Can it not be the case that labels (now, I’m talking about smaller independent labels) who care enough to produce vinyl because the label, the fan, and the artist all benefit in ways that are apart from feeling smugly cool about themselves and fleecing or freezing out idiot punters? These things don’t appear in runs of 10,000+ or whatever because the numbers aren’t there to support that kind of manufacturing and distribution investment. Not because labels are trying to fuck the “real” fans over. Vinyl is still a fetish object to a large degree. It isn’t a practical necessity.

    Even if there is some tiny, flavor of the month dance music label head rubbing his hands together and laughing while shipping out only 99 copies of the latest goth techno banger to the 20 shops worldwide he deems worthy of the release, who fucking cares? Buy it if you can find it or don’t. Bitching about limited edition art is an entirely futile pursuit.

    Meanwhile, what I mostly hear from people who actually run small labels say is that, while the situation has improved, it’s nothing like it was in the heyday of vinyl DJ’ing, for instance, before digital took off. I even heard an interview with the guy who founded popular indie label Merge say this. Broadly speaking, vinyl is still very much a break-even proposition at best for smaller labels that helps keeps them in the game and their artists on the road gigging for their real living.

    And, let’s face it, while deep pocketed labels can maybe afford to put out shitty records, the expense and complexity of generating vinyl releases does undeniably weed out a lot of average music. If you want to talk about some kind of doomsday scenario where the chaff seriously outweighs the wheat, imagine if everyone got a free vinyl release when they signed up for Soundcloud or Bandcamp. The value of all releases, worthy and otherwise, would plummet because we’d be wading through piles of this garbage in the streets.

    Anyone who has read my infrequent posts here knows that I can complain for no reason with the best of them. However, I’ve been buying vinyl for more than 20 years, and it certainly was no easier back in the day to find smaller releases on vinyl or CD if it didn’t come from major label or huge indie. If one of the few decent shops in my area didn’t have it in the pre-digital era, the only solution was mail order or a car or plane trip.

    Now, I can get whatever I want more or less in some format with a little digging. If there is a headline in all of this, I’d say it’s, “Enjoy the vinyl surge while it lasts.” You touched on this, Peter, with your comment about broader industry trends measured by SoundScan not being leading indicators. The pendulum may swing the other way at some point, so let’s focus on supporting the artists we love by investing in whatever playback media we have at our disposal at any given moment.

  • Nagasaki Nightrider

    I read that Attack Mag article and others like it recently that make the point that limited editions and exclusives are being produced to fuel things like Record Store Day and elitists who favor exclusivity over quality. The quote you provide here sums up that view well: “new music is sold to as few people as possible to make the hype machine spin.” I emphatically call bullshit on this. It sounds like sour grapes from people looking for some ill-defined perfect balance of affordable quality and all-inclusiveness.

    Cox goes on to say, “…a large proportion of vinyl sales come from things like audiophile reissues of classic albums, Record Store Day novelties and collectors’ editions, dance music has its own issues to deal with.” So what? People want it, so it gets made. Most people don’t have hugely adventurous tastes. If all this stuff went away, would it be better for small indie labels? I think not.

    The market climate is such that vast numbers of people globally do not place enough value on music to pay for it. Where’s the harm in generating some premium product for those that do? Please note that I’m largely ignoring the endless reissue cycle of remastered, 180 gram Beatles/Stones/Pearl Jam/Whoever-the-Fuck because this is not news. Ever heard of the CD boxset? This is a continuation of the entirely predictable business model of mainstream media companies, plain and simple. This same approach of repackaging old content extends (minus the premium price) to comic book franchise movies and the lame SNL character spin off movies of yore. Maybe it sucks, but it doesn’t have much to do with vinyl.

    So, vinyl has enjoyed a healthy resurgence in the past decade and majors have jumped on the bandwagon. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if there were half as many of these
    allegedly lame and unworthy artists releasing records that sales of titles from the unknown, put-upon, penniless, and more deserving artists would rise proportionally. But that seems to be what some of these people moaning about the imagined circle jerk conspiracy between labels that can afford to produce vinyl and their aloof hipster fans are suggesting.

    Can it not be the case that labels (now, I’m talking about smaller independent labels) who care enough to produce vinyl because the label, the fan, and the artist all benefit in ways that are apart from feeling smugly cool about themselves and fleecing or freezing out idiot punters? These things don’t appear in runs of 10,000+ or whatever because the numbers aren’t there to support that kind of manufacturing and distribution investment. Not because labels are trying to fuck the “real” fans over. Vinyl is still a fetish object to a large degree. It isn’t a practical necessity.

    Even if there is some tiny, flavor of the month dance music label head rubbing his hands together and laughing while shipping out only 99 copies of the latest goth techno banger to the 20 shops worldwide he deems worthy of the release, who fucking cares? Buy it if you can find it or don’t. Bitching about limited edition art is an entirely futile pursuit.

    Meanwhile, what I mostly hear from people who actually run small labels say is that, while the situation has improved, it’s nothing like it was in the heyday of vinyl DJ’ing, for instance, before digital took off. I even heard an interview with the guy who founded popular indie label Merge say this. Broadly speaking, vinyl is still very much a break-even proposition at best for smaller labels that helps keeps them in the game and their artists on the road gigging for their real living.

    And, let’s face it, while deep pocketed labels can maybe afford to put out shitty records, the expense and complexity of generating vinyl releases does undeniably weed out a lot of average music. If you want to talk about some kind of doomsday scenario where the chaff seriously outweighs the wheat, imagine if everyone got a free vinyl release when they signed up for Soundcloud or Bandcamp. The value of all releases, worthy and otherwise, would plummet because we’d be wading through piles of this garbage in the streets.

    Anyone who has read my infrequent posts here knows that I can complain for no reason with the best of them. However, I’ve been buying vinyl for more than 20 years, and it certainly was no easier back in the day to find smaller releases on vinyl or CD if it didn’t come from major label or huge indie. If one of the few decent shops in my area didn’t have it in the pre-digital era, the only solution was mail order or a car or plane trip.

    Now, I can get whatever I want more or less in some format with a little digging. If there is a headline in all of this, I’d say it’s, “Enjoy the vinyl surge while it lasts.” You touched on this, Peter, with your comment about broader industry trends measured by SoundScan not being leading indicators. The pendulum may swing the other way at some point, so let’s focus on supporting the artists we love by investing in whatever playback media we have at our disposal at any given moment.

  • Matt Leaf

    I always enjoy this discussion. The movie Patlabor WXIII The Movie 3 was great, the plot actually ended up having analog vs digital as being kinda central. Worth checking out.

    To me it’s all got to do with collecting. You’re either a collector, or you’re not. Non-collectors will get music whatever the easiest way is – off a mate, at a gig, on CD, on the radio, whatever.

    Collectors on the other hand fantasize and fetishize over whatever it is. It’s just like collecting stamps or books or video games or guitar pedals or what have you. It’s just something you get in to.

    In my mind, the vinyl resurgence makes sense – CD has become obsolete because digital files are digital files – it matters not whether they are on disc or hard disk.

    You could say it’s the DJ bringing it back – but actually most DJ’s I know do not spin vinyl, it’s the rarity over the norm.

    Actually I think people are just back into collecting records.

    Because really, do you actually ‘collect’ digital files? They’re so immaterial as to seem worthless. And they are worthless. Like a friend said to me once “How much you want for those second hand mp3’s?”.

    In my opinion charging for digital music is a dead end. But I also understand not everyone has a record player.

    But like Patlabor, maybe the future is going to be more of a mix. I guess we’re heading into that now then, right?

    Lots of maple cases and vinyl and virtual reality, cassettes, and LED’s and smart watches. Kids are nostalgic for a past they never had, but they like to have both, and to be honest, if ever I have kids I’m excited by the idea of them going through my vinyl collection, as I did my own parents.

    Will kids rummage through the parents hard drives? Or just download their own files? There’s something about digging through a curated collection, which is a sure thing with vinyl.

    I’m a bit nostalgic about it I guess, and it is expensive buying vinyl now. Where I live it can be 40 – 50 bucks for an LP whereas as digital is like 12 bucks.

    So I dunno.

    The spice of life lies in the mix.

  • Matt Leaf

    I always enjoy this discussion. The movie Patlabor WXIII The Movie 3 was great, the plot actually ended up having analog vs digital as being kinda central. Worth checking out.

    To me it’s all got to do with collecting. You’re either a collector, or you’re not. Non-collectors will get music whatever the easiest way is – off a mate, at a gig, on CD, on the radio, whatever.

    Collectors on the other hand fantasize and fetishize over whatever it is. It’s just like collecting stamps or books or video games or guitar pedals or what have you. It’s just something you get in to.

    In my mind, the vinyl resurgence makes sense – CD has become obsolete because digital files are digital files – it matters not whether they are on disc or hard disk.

    You could say it’s the DJ bringing it back – but actually most DJ’s I know do not spin vinyl, it’s the rarity over the norm.

    Actually I think people are just back into collecting records.

    Because really, do you actually ‘collect’ digital files? They’re so immaterial as to seem worthless. And they are worthless. Like a friend said to me once “How much you want for those second hand mp3’s?”.

    In my opinion charging for digital music is a dead end. But I also understand not everyone has a record player.

    But like Patlabor, maybe the future is going to be more of a mix. I guess we’re heading into that now then, right?

    Lots of maple cases and vinyl and virtual reality, cassettes, and LED’s and smart watches. Kids are nostalgic for a past they never had, but they like to have both, and to be honest, if ever I have kids I’m excited by the idea of them going through my vinyl collection, as I did my own parents.

    Will kids rummage through the parents hard drives? Or just download their own files? There’s something about digging through a curated collection, which is a sure thing with vinyl.

    I’m a bit nostalgic about it I guess, and it is expensive buying vinyl now. Where I live it can be 40 – 50 bucks for an LP whereas as digital is like 12 bucks.

    So I dunno.

    The spice of life lies in the mix.

  • Matt Leaf

    I always enjoy this discussion. The movie Patlabor WXIII The Movie 3 was great, the plot actually ended up having analog vs digital as being kinda central. Worth checking out.

    To me it’s all got to do with collecting. You’re either a collector, or you’re not. Non-collectors will get music whatever the easiest way is – off a mate, at a gig, on CD, on the radio, whatever.

    Collectors on the other hand fantasize and fetishize over whatever it is. It’s just like collecting stamps or books or video games or guitar pedals or what have you. It’s just something you get in to.

    In my mind, the vinyl resurgence makes sense – CD has become obsolete because digital files are digital files – it matters not whether they are on disc or hard disk.

    You could say it’s the DJ bringing it back – but actually most DJ’s I know do not spin vinyl, it’s the rarity over the norm.

    Actually I think people are just back into collecting records.

    Because really, do you actually ‘collect’ digital files? They’re so immaterial as to seem worthless. And they are worthless. Like a friend said to me once “How much you want for those second hand mp3’s?”.

    In my opinion charging for digital music is a dead end. But I also understand not everyone has a record player.

    But like Patlabor, maybe the future is going to be more of a mix. I guess we’re heading into that now then, right?

    Lots of maple cases and vinyl and virtual reality, cassettes, and LED’s and smart watches. Kids are nostalgic for a past they never had, but they like to have both, and to be honest, if ever I have kids I’m excited by the idea of them going through my vinyl collection, as I did my own parents.

    Will kids rummage through the parents hard drives? Or just download their own files? There’s something about digging through a curated collection, which is a sure thing with vinyl.

    I’m a bit nostalgic about it I guess, and it is expensive buying vinyl now. Where I live it can be 40 – 50 bucks for an LP whereas as digital is like 12 bucks.

    So I dunno.

    The spice of life lies in the mix.

  • DPrty

    Cassette!

  • DPrty

    Cassette!

  • DPrty

    Cassette!

  • Michael Fremer

    I’ve been on this case for more than 30 years. I knew vinyl would survive and prosper. What was required was for sound to deteriorate so badly that a generation of kids fed it, would hear better and rebel. That’s part of what has happened as we slid sonically downhill. However the GREATEST THREAT to the vinyl resurgence are sales of groove chewing junk turntables like the one shown in the picture housed in an faux antique plastic “radio” cabinet. Unfortunately Urban Outfitters is one of many retailers selling that Crosley JUNK as is, inexplicably, Jack White’s Third Man Music. Those turntables will destroy vinyl and as kids who buy them will discover, render their records noisy, chewed up and unplayable. Urban does sell a Music Hall that will take care of records (assuming kids do likewise) and kickstarter project U-Turn makes a decent turntable for under $200.00. Stores selling groove chewers are sowing the seeds of their own vinyl destruction.-editor, analogplanet.com

  • Michael Fremer

    I’ve been on this case for more than 30 years. I knew vinyl would survive and prosper. What was required was for sound to deteriorate so badly that a generation of kids fed it, would hear better and rebel. That’s part of what has happened as we slid sonically downhill. However the GREATEST THREAT to the vinyl resurgence are sales of groove chewing junk turntables like the one shown in the picture housed in an faux antique plastic “radio” cabinet. Unfortunately Urban Outfitters is one of many retailers selling that Crosley JUNK as is, inexplicably, Jack White’s Third Man Music. Those turntables will destroy vinyl and as kids who buy them will discover, render their records noisy, chewed up and unplayable. Urban does sell a Music Hall that will take care of records (assuming kids do likewise) and kickstarter project U-Turn makes a decent turntable for under $200.00. Stores selling groove chewers are sowing the seeds of their own vinyl destruction.-editor, analogplanet.com

  • Michael Fremer

    I’ve been on this case for more than 30 years. I knew vinyl would survive and prosper. What was required was for sound to deteriorate so badly that a generation of kids fed it, would hear better and rebel. That’s part of what has happened as we slid sonically downhill. However the GREATEST THREAT to the vinyl resurgence are sales of groove chewing junk turntables like the one shown in the picture housed in an faux antique plastic “radio” cabinet. Unfortunately Urban Outfitters is one of many retailers selling that Crosley JUNK as is, inexplicably, Jack White’s Third Man Music. Those turntables will destroy vinyl and as kids who buy them will discover, render their records noisy, chewed up and unplayable. Urban does sell a Music Hall that will take care of records (assuming kids do likewise) and kickstarter project U-Turn makes a decent turntable for under $200.00. Stores selling groove chewers are sowing the seeds of their own vinyl destruction.-editor, analogplanet.com

  • domtak

    Vinyl’s current prices are way too inflated. Seeing LP’s here in Europe at €30+ ($40). I used to buy a lot of vinyl but I’m not doing currently. Criminal.

  • domtak

    Vinyl’s current prices are way too inflated. Seeing LP’s here in Europe at €30+ ($40). I used to buy a lot of vinyl but I’m not doing currently. Criminal.

  • domtak

    Vinyl’s current prices are way too inflated. Seeing LP’s here in Europe at €30+ ($40). I used to buy a lot of vinyl but I’m not doing currently. Criminal.

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