Vinyl LPs’ Resurgence – Though still a niche market, public interest in vinyl has increased greatly and sales of both new and reissue LPs has been taking off both in brick & mortar stores and on the Internet. Even outlets such as Costco and Wal-Mart have started carrying USB turntables – designed to play thru computer audio systems and to make it easier to turn valued vinyl collections into digital files. A few new vinyl albums have even been issued together with a URL and code to allow downloading the same album as a MP3 files from the Net – giving the buyer the best of both worlds.
Even some major labels which haven’t done much with LPs for years are launching new vinyl series. Concord Music Group has a new section of their web site called The Collector’s Corner, selling rare vinyl, box sets, and out of print releases from their many different jazz and pop sub labels. Their first new vinyl reissues include classic albums from Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. [ConcordMusicGroup.com/collectors-corner/] Strangely, one area that was vinyl-intensive is now making much less use of the needle in the groove. That would be the DJs, who provided the only experience of LPs to many young people, but many of which now put all their music on laptops via MP3 files.
A clerk in a department store in Portland OR ordered a new R.E.M. album on vinyl by mistake instead of the CD version. Nevertheless, they put it on the shelves and it flew off, so now all the stores in their chain are stocking some LPs. So far this year, 803,000 LPs have been sold in the U.S. – a 77% increase over last year. It is expected total sales for 2008 could be 1.6 million, while CD sales are down 16% from last year. There’s a fly in the ointment though – it’s the higher price of petroleum from which vinyl is made, as well as the oil to lubricate the pressing machines and the gas to transport the heavier LPs. One pressing plant said the basic cost of pressing a CD is about $1 each whereas the more labor-intensive LP is $4 to $8 per unit for the initial pressing, and further increase may be coming. Some audiophile LPs already retail for as much as $40 each.