Unlike the late HBO series “Vinyl“, physical vinyl records are more popular than ever. So much so that after 28 years, Sony Music is restarting their production of vinyls, their first to be produced since 1989. Hipsters rejoice!
The company announced that the record pressing plant will be located just near Tokyo, but it’s unclear what genre of records will be produced at this stage. Some sources indicate it will first press older Japanese pop music as a tester before producing more contemporary Western music. Production at the new plant is set to begin in March 2018.
Meanwhile, only just this week, the Korean company Machang Music & Pictures have also opened a new record pressing plant in Seoul, the first operational plant since 2004. Below is a video posted by Machang demonstrating just what goes into making a record.
The news from Sony comes as the Recording Industry Association of America shares statistics that streaming music sales in 2016 overtook all physical music sales for the first time in history. CD’s, once the dominant physical media of music that took up 95 per cent of music sales in 2002, is now less that 16 per cent. Ironically, at the advent of CD’s in the late 80’s, Sony along with Phillips were some of the format’s biggest cheerleaders.
Streaming songs is now the most dominant form people listen to music. For a minimal fee listeners have a treasure trove of music at their fingers without the worry of shelf space or computer storage.
And yet the vinyl has still survived the advent of cassette tapes in the 1960’s, CD’s in the 1980’s, downloadable songs in the 2000’s and streaming services in the 2010’s. Vinyl record sales rose to nearly 12 million in 2015 and all signs point to the figure continuing to rise.
Obviously, the demand for vinyls is up. The recent Record Store Day events over the past 10 years have emphasized their popularity. Artists like Daft Punk, Radiohead and Neil Young have released exclusive singles and albums each year. This year alone has shown the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper 50th anniversary re-release as the most popular vinyl sold in 2017.
It remains remarkable that a music format 100+ years old still takes up a considerable chunk of the market. A similar renaissance of Sony-produced Betamax tapes is yet to happen but remains unlikely.