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by Robyn Lynch

Vinyl: The Last Stand Against The Digital Age?

A look at the age old format...

 

Vinyl: The Last Stand Against The Digital Age?

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The scratch of the needle, the unveiling of a shiny new piece and the crackle as the record begins to play are all reasons why vinyl is loved.

With the digital age looming and consumers giving up on owning physical copies of music in exchange for cheaper prices and instant access, it would seem that the record shop, and in turn vinyl, are a breed with an ever nearing extinction date.

Over recent years Virgin, Zavvi and Woolworths have all shut down due to the economic down turn, leaving HMV as the only music shop left standing on the British High Street. Closing over 30 of its shops in the recent months, it seems that HMV are also to let go of their live music venues Hammersmith Apollo and Kentish Town Forum.

One area that has seen a growth from HMV however is within their vinyl sales. According to The Official Charts Company, vinyl saw a rise in sales last year to 341,000 which is an increase of 44% on 2010’s total sale of 237,000. Reacting to this growth increase, HMV are to expand their collection of vinyl in certain stores to accommodate the ever growing interest in the format. Speaking after customer enquiries to broaden the amount of records stocked a HMV spokesman said “A lot of customers have been asking us to increase the amount of racking we dedicate to music in-store and we’re pleased to say we’ll be doing a lot more of that soon – in fact we’re also planning to significantly increase our range of vinyl in quite a few locations as well.”

A statement that will see fans of the vinyl jumping for joy as an increase in sales such as this will surely mean the format has a safer future.

However it could be said that HMV are reacting very late to this news, just as they did with the growth of the online market which has lead the company to be in such a bad way in the first place. Record shops such as Rough Trade, Sister Ray and Banquet Records have been trading for almost thirty years, and in the case of Banquet Records seven years exactly today. Opening a new record store in our rocky climate and going from strength to strength, Banquet Records have proved their might and what can be done with a good bit of marketing. 

The one key thing that Rough Trade and Banquet Records have in common is the weekly addition of in-store signing and gigs while Banquet Records also run a host of accompanying gig and club nights in Kingston, Surrey.

Another bow to the vinyl’s string is the yearly event ‘National Record Store Day’. Taking place across America and in the UK, this year’s event takes place on April 21 in the UK with Iggy Pop named as this year’s ambassador. With special releases and in-store shows arranged on the day at hundreds of independent records stores across the UK it would seem that the vinyl is performing stronger than ever before.

With the total sales of records up, HMV paying attention to the format and a national day to celebrate such a classic way of listening to music, the vinyl can call itself the music lovers’ choice. A choice that will hopefully be safe in years to come.

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