Vinyl Sales Sky High For Newbury Comics, Merge Records

Vinyl Sales Sky High For Newbury Comics, Merge Records
As the CD makes its slow trek toward obsolescence, it’s no big secret that vinyl is becoming the new physical format of choice (to sink your teeth into some numbers, take a look at the RIAA’s 2007 sales report). Nevertheless, the recent surge in the popularity of wax can still come as a bit of a shock, as a recent Boston Globe article shows.

Mike Dreese, the chief executive and co-founder and of the U.S. music chain Newbury Comics, told the Globe his company’s vinyl sales were 80 percent higher in 2008 than they were at this same time last year.

"Right now, we're selling about $100,000 a month worth of vinyl," Dreese said. Why? Well, in Dreese’s opinion, "I think there are a lot of people who are looking for some kind of a throwback to something that's tangible. The CD was a tremendous sonic package, but from a graphic standpoint, it was a disaster. People still want a connection to an artist, and vinyl connects them in a way that an erasable file doesn't."

And surprisingly or not, it doesn’t seem to be aging boomers fuelling this resurgence, according to many interviewed in the Globe piece, but younger music buyers. "We're seeing this explosion of young people under 25 who never even saw an LP as a child running toward a format that was pronounced dead before they were even born,” said Josh Bizar of musicdirect, a company that specializes in analog technology such as new and reissued vinyl and turntables. "But if a title has any kind of mass appeal, it's coming out on vinyl today."

Bizar went on to say that the sales of vinyl LPs and accessories like needle cartridges and record cleaners have jumped 300 percent in each of the past four years, with the sales of turntables spiking nearly 500 per cent annually during the same time frame.

"They cannot make [turntables] fast enough," Bizar said. "Owning a record album is certainly a lot cooler than owning a digital subset of zeroes and ones on a computer. And the simple act of playing an LP takes a certain single-mindedness that seems to go beyond today's culture of multitasking. It's not as easy as just pushing a button."

Record labels are also feeling the impact of vinyl’s comeback, often struggling to keep their supply up with the demand. Merge Records founder and Superchunk front-man Mac McCaughan estimates that for every ten albums Merge puts out digitally or on CD, eight get pressed on vinyl.

"It's not going to come back and replace CDs or MP3s," McCaughan said. "But if you do it right and make the vinyl heavy and make the packaging nice, it's everything that people liked about music in the first place."