"Harry Styles’s new album 'Harry’s House' generated 62% of its first-week revenue from vinyl sales. Its vinyl sales generated more than three times its revenue from streaming, which accounted for just 18%. - Trapital's Dan Runcie starts his latest newsletter. "Vinyls shift puts more power in the hands of record labels, who have to determine inventory for each artist given the supply chain constraints. Will they treat vinyls like a hype-driven collectible item? Or will it be subject to the same industry patterns that hold certain genres back?".

2.11 million vinyl records were sold in the week ending on December 23rd in the US, marking vinyl’s biggest week in sales since 1991, Billboard reports. It is also the first time vinyl sales have exceeded two million units in decades. Kid Cudi just broke the record for the biggest vinyl sales week for both a male artist and a rap album with 41,500 in sales of his album 'Man on the Moon III: The Chosen'. However, the best-selling vinyl album in the past week was Adele‘s '30', which moved 59,000 copies.

Vinyl sales in the UK topped five million for the first time since 1991, BBC reports adding that almost a quarter of the albums bought this year (23%) were on vinyl. Abba's 'Voyage' was the biggest-seller, followed by Adele's '30', Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours', Ed Sheeran's '=', and Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black'. This year marks vinyl's 14th consecutive year of growth, with sales up by 8% on 2020. Sales of CDs continued to fall - just 14 million discs were bought, a 12% drop compared to the previous year - the lowest figure since 1988. Cassette sales increased for a ninth consecutive year - around 190,000 tapes were purchased in the past 12 months, up by around 20% year on year.

Adele's '30' was turned into manufacturers more than six months ago in order to combat the recent worldwide vinyl shortage — caused by unprecedented, pandemic-related demand, supply-chain disruptions and an increase in manufacturing prices — that has left many artists waiting months after an album's digital release for vinyl records - Variety reports on the curious case. Adele's choke-hold on the music industry meant she was able to book up already-overbooked vinyl plants in order to rush-order pressings so that they would arrive alongside '30''s digital release. Sony also made the decision to "push catalogue titles off its overseas pressing plants to ensure there won't be any shortage of Adele LPs going into the holidays". Over 500,000 copies of '30' were pressed and will now be hitting stores on November 19, while pressings from smaller artists and imprints — who often rely on vinyl sales in order to survive — are now delayed even further (some until 2022) in order to accommodate the blockbuster release.

Not enough culture factory
October 22, 2021

Vinyl records so popular it's getting hard to press them

"Left for dead with the advent of CDs in the 1980s, vinyl records are now the music industry’s most popular and highest-grossing physical format, with fans choosing it for collectibility, sound quality or simply the tactile experience of music in an age of digital ephemerality" - The New York Times looks into the trend (via New York Today). However, "there are worrying signs that the vinyl bonanza has exceeded the industrial capacity needed to sustain it. Production logjams and a reliance on balky, decades-old pressing machines have led to what executives say are unprecedented delays. A couple of years ago, a new record could be turned around in a few months; now it can take up to a year, wreaking havoc on artists’ release plans... Consumption of vinyl LPs has grown much faster than the industry’s ability to make records. The business relies on an aging infrastructure of pressing machines, most of which date to the 1970s or earlier and can be costly to maintain".

Thank you and goodbye
July 13, 2021

Indie artists turning away from vinyl

Smaller labels and artists who once helped kickstart the vinyl comeback a decade ago are starting to bow out, Pitchfork reports. Production capacity has been especially squeezed since COVID-19 lockdowns disrupted supply chains; the global demand for vinyl albums was recently estimated at twice the available supply, causing the turnaround times for independent artists to expand to a whole year - up from two to three months in times of less demand.

The vinyl boom only accelerated during the pandemic, generating $626 million in revenue in 2020 in the United States. Sales are on track to hit $1 billion this year - Billboard dives into the issue of vinyl production. The article looks at the limited editions and exclusive pressings driving the market; the supply-chain problems and manufacturing delays that could threaten sales; the way labels use data to decide what gets pressed on vinyl; and the move for greener pressing plants.

Artists circle
May 16, 2021

Art & music - artists paint vinyl

A beautiful collection of colored vinyl presented in the Guardian. 33 artists were given 33 test pressings of vinyl, who used it as a canvas to paint them however they liked. An auction of their work will be launched on May 20 at HeliumLondon.com, and all proceeds will go to mental health charity Music Support.

Streaming had the biggest impact on recorded music revenue growth last year - 62% came from streaming. Trapital emphasizes three few less discussed but interesting findings from IFPI reports. Vinyl sales grew 23.5% last year - vinyl are collectibles. It's a callback to a time when fans valued owning art. Synchronization - the use of music in media like games, TV, film, ads, podcasts, etc. - declined 9.4%, but that dip came from pandemic-related production delays. Now that vaccinations are up and production is back on, this will bounce back. South Korea's music revenue grew 44.8% last year. It's now the sixth-largest music market (behind the US, Japan, UK, Germany, and France). It's driven by K-Pop, which is driven by the world's biggest musical act of 2020, BTS.

Another great thing Bandcamp is doing - the streaming company is going to press vinyl runs for 10,000 different artists on their platform, as their director Ethan Diamond has announced. The company will also ship records, fulfill digital, and handle customer service, all while letting the artist choose their own design and set the price. And another thing - these vinyls will be financed by the fans who order them (vinyl batches start around $2,000 mark). So, Bandcamp is turning itself into a record label - they are the manufacturer, the distributor, and the logistics team - without taking any ownership of the records themselves.

Americans purchased $232 million USD worth of vinyl records in the first half of this year, out of a total of $376 million in physical music sales, Pitchfork reports. This marks the first time since the 1980s that CDs were outsold. Streaming revenue brought in $421 million USD in the first six months of 2020.

"We came around to this idea that maybe what was significant about this moment in time with records was that the person we imagined being someone who liked records was changing. And that records were becoming a people's medium rather than a weirdo's or an eccentric's medium. When Chris said, 'Well, maybe this is a story about inclusion and connection', that was the moment I leapt off the chair and said, 'That's our movie'" - co-director Kevin Smokler said about his new documentary 'Vinyl Nation' (the other co-director being Christopher Boone). It documents he rise, fall and resurgence of vinyl through the eyes of musicians, labels, manufacturers, collectors and record store clerks. It's online now.

The price went north
August 08, 2020

World's most valuable 7in record sold

The world's most valuable 7in single, 'Do I Love You', by Frank Wilson, has been bought by 38-year-old Lee Jeffries for an undisclosed sum, but it went for more than it did when it was last sold, 11 years ago. In 2009 the disc with "the most famous northern soul record" fetched a record-breaking £25,742. It was, and remains, the most expensive seven inch 45rpm labeled record ever sold.

The manufacturing and storage facility for Apollo Masters, a Californian factory that supplies the lacquer used for making master discs, which are then used to create vinyl records - has burned down in a massive fire Friday morning, the Desert Sun reported. Apollo is, along with MDC in Japan, one of only two worldwide factories that produce the lacquers needed to create vinyls. Gil Tamazyan, founder and president of the California-based vinyl pressing plant Capsule Labs, said to Billboard that "unless something happens really quickly, there will soon be Vinylgeddon". Tamazyan estimates that Apollo supplies 80% of blank lacquer master discs globally.

Music, like pretty much everything else, is caught up in petro-capitalism. Vinyl records, as well as cassettes and CDs, are oil products that have been made and destroyed by the billion since the mid-20th century. Is rejecting physical media and embracing streaming the answer? No, because digital media is physical media, too. Digital audio files rely on infrastructures of data storage, processing and transmission that have potentially higher greenhouse gas emissions than the petrochemical plastics – to stream music is to burn coal, uranium and gas.

The touch of music
January 29, 2020

Millenials - keeping the physical media alive

The physical media is still alive, despite all the convenience of the streaming platforms. Number confirm that the physicals are still here - by 2018, more people aged 30-49, meaning older millennials and younger Gen Xers, still owned DVD players than any other age group. On the other hand, vinyl records earned $224.1 million in the first half of 2019 and recently outsold CDs for the first time since 1986. Nearly 50 percent of record player owners are 35 or younger.

A record number of 973,000 vinyl LPs was sold in the USA in week ending Dec. 19, marking the single biggest week for vinyl album sales since Nielsen Music began electronically tracking music sales in 1991. Vinyl album sales were so hot in the week ending Dec. 19, they comprised 25% of all albums sold […]

Phonocut is the size of a regular turntable, and it allows users to connect a digital audio source of their choice and use an accompanying app to help format the audio to fit two sides of a 10-inch record. From there, a diamond stylus will etch the sound wave into the surface of the record. […]

For the first time since 1986, vinyl records are on pace to outsell CDs this year - in the first half of 2019 vinyl sales made $224.1 million, comparatively, CDs yielded $247.9 million. Vinyl revenue grew 12.8% in the second half of 2018, and 12.9% in the first six months of 2019. The profits and […]

Every year 160 million vinyl records are being pressed, and the demand is getting higher. Production processes of those vinyls are largely stuck in the late 70s, and are decidedly anti-green. It involves toxic acids, huge amounts of energy including steaming and cooling, and the records themselves are typically PVC, a plastic thought to be […]

Bandcamp is starting new vinyl pressing service, available to artists and labels later this year. Artisti will first create a vinyl campaign and begin taking orders with no up-front investment. Once they reach their minimum goal of orders, Bandcamp will press the records, print the packaging and ship to fans. Artists decide on the design […]

British artists, blockbuster film soundtracks, vibrant streaming growth & resilient demand for physical formats combine to fuel a near 6% rise in music consumption in 2018 – the fourth year of growth in a row. A total of 142.9 million albums or their equivalent were either streamed, purchased on physical format, and/or downloaded over the […]

Arctic Monkeys' new album 'Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino' sold 24,500 vinyl copies in its first week, which makes it the fastest-selling vinyl LP of the past 25 years. The record was previously held by Liam Gallagher’s 'As You Were', which sold 16,000 in its first week. Like their previous five records, it has now reached No. […]