In recent years, vinyl records have experienced a resurgence in popularity, with sales rising dramatically and a renewed interest in both new and old records. This resurgence has not been limited to just one country, with vinyl sales increasing all over the world. In the mid-2000s, vinyl sales in the US were barely over 1 million, but by 2020, that number had risen to over 27.5 million recorded sales.
So, what is the secret of vinyl’s enduring popularity? Sound quality has always been a big part of the argument, with music aficionados vaunting the perceived audio quality difference of vinyl versus more modern formats. Modern digital audio generally uses compressed files, especially when streaming, which can affect the overall sound quality. However, the appeal of vinyl goes beyond just the sound quality. There is also a tangible aspect to the format that is attractive to music lovers. Robert Palmer, owner of Roan Records in London, explains: “There is definitely something to be said for the tangibility of vinyl. Anyone can stream music any time they want, but for those looking for a deeper connection to music, you can’t match a physical record you can hold in your hands and go through the ritual of putting it on and listening.”
Contrary to popular belief, it is not just the older generation driving the interest in vinyl. In fact, younger people have played a significant role in rejuvenating vinyl sales. Even though many younger people don’t actually have the equipment to play vinyl records, they are still buying them. This shows that at least part of the attraction is not related to the musical quality of the product they are buying. For some, vinyl records represent a physical object that they want to own, with artists often releasing deluxe editions of vinyl records in unique colourways in small runs, making them highly sought-after collectibles. Others may be motivated by a desire to support the artists they love in a more tangible way, understanding that streaming their music is not a legitimate way of doing this.
In Australia, vinyl record sales have also seen a significant increase. In 2019, vinyl sales in Australia reached a 25-year high, with over 1.3 million records sold, according to the Australian Recording Industry Association. This marks a 20% increase from the previous year and a 65% increase from the low point in 2007. These numbers place Australia as the seventh-largest market for vinyl records in the world, behind the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada.
The resurgence of vinyl records is not just limited to physical sales. Many music lovers are also turning to vinyl as a way to connect with the past and the roots of music. For example, classic rock and jazz albums are often rereleased on vinyl, allowing fans to appreciate the music in a format that is closer to the original release.
The future of vinyl sales is uncertain, but for now, it seems that the format is here to stay. With a combination of sound quality, tangibility, and nostalgia driving its popularity, it is not surprising that vinyl records continue to attract new fans.