Thu. Dec. 12, 2019

Back to vinyl! Utopia or possibility?

Will we ever one day get back to vinyl when coming to listen to music? An interrogation, but most likely the expression of an hypothesis that’s been around for quite some time. And even more nowadays, with the ongoing decrease of both CD’s and digital sales…

Of course, the good ol’ vinyl has accumulated many things pleading against it. Like its intrinsic fragility in comparison to a CD and even more an mp3. Its shipping and handling fees, equivalent to about 3 times its gross price when sent overseas. The ongoing rarity of turntables. Not to mention the impossibility to give it a listen to… Be it in a car or when walkin’ from a place to another like so many of us do on a daily basis. But on the other side, it offers so many advantages that other media simply don’t. Such as an undeniable quality sound reproduction with a warmth suffering no comparison. But also a visual aspect adding much to its aesthetic appeal. Not to mention the credits one might simply consider as nowadays’s tags…

All in all, as many things makin’ of it an artistic object. With some of them eventually standing as rare antiques. Like the acetates and the limited editions) which CD’s never managed to be seen as. And mp3’s could never be…

Of course, the CD happened to be more handy, and even more is the mp3. But we’re speaking here in terms of format. Therefore finding ourselves so far away from any kind of artistic consideration.

Back to vinyl? Not so sure at the end. Even though it has not disappeared despite the countless predictions in that sense which have been florishing by the time the CD made its appearance in the mid 80’s. Back to vinyl? “Say wot?”, could argue the Reggae scene who’s never stopped pressing 7 inches after all these years! Back to vinyl? One’s obviously never found a better alternative. As let’s not forget we are first and foremost speakin’ of art at the end. Therefore, at the opposite from the down to earth considerations of the mass distribution…

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for…” (Taylor Swift)

“The equation facing the music business is now well understood. Sales of CD’s and digital music downloads are in what looks like a death spiral. Meanwhile streaming music services are adding subscribers and increasing revenues but not yet profits”, wrote Quartz about a month ago. Adding the fact that the progression of vinyl sales doesn’t only apply to the United States. But also United Kingdom. This with performances back to a level comparable as to what it was in 1997.

“You should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist. One of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying… It’s just coming alive”, said seven-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift in a recent debate about the future of music business, which The Guardian reported. And although she acknowledged the pressures buffeting the business, she argued the answer was not – as some artists have done – to give away their music for nothing!!!

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free. And my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.” Instead, Swift called on artists to seek a new connection with fans.

An “arrow through the heart” poignancy that would overcome the collapse of the old revenue models. “In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace.” As many things which countless people, be they producers, DJ’s, indie label execs, have obviously not taken into enough, if not total consideration for years. This in addition to their global unability to communicate. The whole being for much on their lack of notoriety and, as a result, image. Not to mention the poorness of their music sales which they try to bypass. Meanwhile always putting out more or more music that doesn’t get the necessary time to be identified…

Infographic: The LP is Back! | Statista
More statistics one can find at Statista

“More broadly, one could see the vinyl boom as yet another illustration of the societal fetishisation of all things “vintage” and analog. This reaction clearly sounds like a response to digitization, corporitization, globalization. And probably some other “izations” I’m not thinking of right now”, explained Will Oremus on Slate.

“Within the music industry, vinyl’s renaissance is also tied to notions of “the album” as a cohesive artistic statement, usually by an actual band. Although 2013’s top vinyl record belonged to Daft Punk, three out of every four LPs sold were Rock albums, Billboard observes. With independent music stores selling about 65 percent of them.”

Fetishisation process as a response to nowadays’s context? But not only, simply because of music being basically an art. With the latter to find its representation via a form and therefore an object. Just like literature, painting, sculpture, with the addition of an extra dose of fetichism which, itself, found its manifestation in the attitude of the collectors. eBay being a good illustration to this. But also the no less good ol’ record shops. As many places where people could socialize in a real way back then.

Will we ever get back to vinyl in any significant way? Time, as usual, will tell!

Editorials – Back to vinyl! Utopia or possibility?

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