Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vinyl LP's, Everyone Thing Old Is New Again!

Spring Is Here

A recent article published in the New York Times "Weaned on Cds, They're Reaching for Vinyl" got my attention.  The article was written by Allan Lozinn and was about the growth of Vinyl LP sales. I was aware last year that some small music labels were rereleasing vinyl LP's, but this is the first article since then that cites the progress and sales of vinyl LP's.  Many of my musician friends have always expressed the opinion that the sound you hear from LP's was warmer and had more depth than the CDs that all but replaced the LP industry. Personally I have never heard a vinyl LP that had a better sound than a digital CD but I have not gotten the chance to listen to many of the new LP's, so it's still an open question for me.

The main problem with the new "Vinyl LP" industry is not the lack of interest or buyers.  It turns out that the core problem is lack of pressing equipment needed to manufacture the LP's. According to Lozinn's article, about a dozen pressing plants are now up and in operation.  In addition, every major record label is releasing vinyl and most new releases have a vinyl version.  This is great for the growth of the vinyl industry but the effect is putting more pressure on the pressing industry that does not have enough equipment to satisfy the growing demand.  Most of the vinyl manufacturers are using used presses that cost about $25,000 and then they have to spend additional money to recondition them.  New pressing machines are very costly, running up to $500,000; a cost most labels can't justify.

When I first heard about vinyl LP's being issued again, my thought was that there is as much value in the LP art on the album cover as there is in the music on the vinyl itself. Now, if the quality of sound is more satisfying to a music fan than CDs, then this would explain the strong demand for the new vinyl LP's. Lozinn notes that "a growing number of classic albums including the complete Beatles and early Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan catalogs have had vinyl reissues in recent years as well."

One surprising comment in the Lozinn article was that the market seems to be driven by young kids who think collecting these new vinyl LP's is cool.  Josh Bizarre, the Director of Sales and Management of Music Direct, a Chicago company that manufactures vinyl and turntables provided the following interesting quote,"We never expected the vinyl resurgence to become as crazy as it is," he said. "But it's come full circle.  We get kids calling us up and telling us why they listen to vinyl and when we ask them why they don't listen to CDs, they say, CDs? My dad listens to CDs, why would I do that?"    

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