What's that sound? It might just be the millions of people uttering "hipster" after reading the title of this post. With a new infographic published by Amazon, it's become strikingly clear that vinyl is hot, even though physical media as a whole is on the decline, and has been for quite some time. Clearly - vinyl can't offer the overall fidelity and clarity of a CD, so why has it suddenly become all the rage?
Amazon hasn't divulged any thoughts into the matter outside of giving us stats to toy with, but it does seem likely that there are many different factors contributing to people's interest in vinyl. Personally, and as ridiculous as it might be, I consider vinyl to be artwork that I can hang on the wall. There's just something about being able to hang up a 30x25cm cover from an album I love that makes me happy. I'm sure most are not like me and simply purchase it for that reason, though.
Others might simply enjoy the purity and spirit of vinyl. To this day, it still mystifies me that you can generate music from mere grooves, and that could be a little more attractive to some than buying a CD which is done en masse and doesn't carry the same sort of luster. And there are of course those who genuinely appreciate the sound from vinyl records. There's even communities of people who rip their vinyls to digital lossless formats so that every listen is like listening to their vinyl for the first time (avoiding a degradation in audio quality which inevitably occurs over time).
With Amazon's AutoRip having been recently updated to support vinyl, we might just see these values skyrocket even further. CDs might seem a little unimpressive when you can hold a massive record in your hands, and still be given a digital copy by Amazon. If Amazon offered its music in lossless qualities, I have little doubt that AutoRip would be a service I'd be taking advantage of. I'm already in the habit of purchasing a CD, ripping it, and then tossing it in the closet. I'd rather have something I'd like to actually look at.
In its infographic, Amazon highlights the genres that were most popular in 2004, versus 2012. Interestingly, I would have figured that dance music would have seen a slight increase, but not so - it decreased from 18.9% to 3.9%. Rock music, by contract, got a boost from 44.3% to 55.6%, while the mysterious miscellaneous category went from 13% to 19.2%.
Since 1999, some of the most popular vinyl sales have included Adele's 21, Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, Amy Winehouse's Back to Black and The White Stripe's Elephant. In 2013 in particular, there's been a surge of sales for classic rock music, with Iron Maiden scoring 5 out of the top 20 sold, and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd also making the list.
It seems certain that vinyl will continue to grow in popularity over time - will we ever see the same thing happen with the cassette? 8-track? Or is this going to be something unique to vinyl?