Vinyl records in 2023
In recent years, vinyl records have experienced a surge as music fans rediscover the unique sound and tactile experience of flippin’ discs. In 2021, vinyl record sales reached a high, over 23 million units were sold in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This increase is significant from a few years ago, when vinyl sales were in decline.
Vinyl records will continue to be popular among music fans in 2023 and beyond. The physical and sensory experience of playing a vinyl record is unique and can't be replicated by digital music formats like playing off your smart phone to a wireless speaker. Music fans appreciate the tangible aspect of collecting vinyl records, which include completing an artists’ catalogue, rarity, or having a range of genres that you like. However, as technology continues to evolve and streaming services become more prevalent, it's possible that the popularity of vinyl records may plateau or decline in the future.
Source: Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-scale-photography-of-turntable-164828/
The rise of record sales worldwide
Vinyl record sales have been on the rise worldwide in recent years. According to data from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), global vinyl sales reached $1.5 billion in 2021, which represents an increase of 46% from the previous year. Vinyl now accounts for around 6% of the global music market, up from just 0.2% in 2006.
The resurgence of vinyl can be attributed to a number of factors, including the unique listening experience and collectability of vinyl records, as well as the growing popularity of vintage and retro aesthetics. Many younger music fans are also discovering vinyl for the first time, attracted by the physicality of the format and the ability to engage with music in a more active and mindful way.
While vinyl sales are still relatively small compared to digital music and streaming, the growth of the vinyl market is a positive sign for the music industry as a whole. Vinyl records provide a unique and tangible way for music fans to engage with their favourite artists and albums, and the continued growth of the vinyl market is a testament to the enduring appeal of physical media.
Vinyl record sales in Australia
According to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), the sales of vinyl records have been on the rise in Australia in recent years. In 2021, the vinyl market saw a 21% increase in value and a 17.5% increase in units sold compared to the previous year. This marks the highest sales volume for vinyl records in Australia since 1990.
The demand for vinyl records in Australia has been driven by a number of factors, including the growing popularity of vinyl among younger listeners and the increased availability of new and reissued vinyl releases. While the overall music market in Australia continues to be dominated by digital music streaming, the resurgence of vinyl has been a bright spot for the industry. It's worth noting that vinyl sales still represent a relatively small portion of the overall music market, but the growth in vinyl sales is a positive trend for both music fans and the music industry as a whole.
How did Covid affect vinyl record sales?
The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative and positive effect on vinyl record sales. In the early months of the pandemic, many businesses that sell vinyl records, such as record stores and music venues, were forced to close temporarily, which resulted in a decline in vinyl sales. Additionally, the disruption to global supply chains caused by the pandemic made it more difficult for vinyl manufacturers to produce and distribute records, which led to delays and shortages.
However, as people spent much more time at home during lockdowns and social distancing measures, many music lovers turned to vinyl records as a way to entertain themselves and connect with music in a more tactile and meaningful way. We all had a little extra time on our hands, and the physical aspect of choosing and playing vinyl allowed for this approach to playing music more appealing. The pandemic led to a surge in demand for vinyl records, particularly among younger listeners who were discovering vinyl for the first time. Additionally, the rise of online sales and home delivery services helped to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the pandemic on the vinyl market.
Are vinyl records manufactured in Australia?
Vinyl records are manufactured in Australia. There are several companies in Australia that specialize in vinyl pressing, including Zenith Records, which is one of the largest and most well-known vinyl pressing plants in the country. Other companies that offer vinyl pressing services in Australia include Small Run Vinyl, Implant Media, and Vinyl Factory.
By far, most vinyl records are still manufactured in other countries. However, local artists have the availability to master, press and release their music locally.
Here are the top countries that manufacture vinyl records:
1. USA – the largest producer
2. Japan – volume producer, independent pressing plants
3. Germany – several large and small pressing plants
4. Czech Republic – new pressing plants emerging
5. UK – long history, volume and independent pressing plants
6. France – many independent pressing plants facilitating a vibrant independent music scene
“I’m a big vinyl listener, I’m a big audiophile. I have a really nice stereo set up at home with a hi-fi and really nice turntable and it’s a big deal to me to listen to music in it’s purest form like that.”
Are young people buying vinyl records?
Yes. Many younger music fans are attracted to vinyl records for a variety of reasons, including the unique listening experience, the physicality and collectability of the format, and the retro and vintage aesthetics associated with vinyl.
According to data from the RIAA, vinyl sales to younger age groups is now a driving force and growing. In 2020, 56% of vinyl buyers were under the age of 35, with the largest age group being 25-34 year-olds. This suggests that vinyl is resonating with a new generation of music fans who are discovering the format for the first time. And the trigger may be that they grew up listening to their parents collection, and now have inherited, or have access to their mum or dads’ vinyl collection.
The popularity of vinyl among young people is also evident in the music industry, with many artists and labels releasing new and reissued vinyl records as part of their marketing and distribution strategies. This includes popular genres among young people such as rock, pop, hip-hop, and electronic music.
Overall, the growing interest in vinyl among young people is a positive trend for the music industry and suggests that the appeal of physical media is enduring across generations.
What is the difference in quality of sound of vinyl records versus music streaming?
Vinyl records and music streaming offer different listening experiences and have different qualities of sound. Vinyl records are analogue recordings that are physically etched into a vinyl disc. The sound is produced by a needle that reads the grooves on the vinyl and translates them into an electrical signal that is sent to an amplifier and then to speakers. Vinyl records are known for their warm, full-bodied sound that is rich in detail and depth. Many vinyl enthusiasts argue that vinyl has a certain "magic" that can't be replicated by digital formats, and that the imperfections and quirks of the medium contribute to its unique character.
On the other hand, music streaming is a digital format that relies on compressed files that are streamed over the internet. Streaming services use complex algorithms to compress and optimize audio files, which can result in a loss of sound quality compared to uncompressed files. However, the convenience and accessibility of streaming services make them popular with music fans who value the ability to access a vast library of music at any time, from anywhere.
Ultimately, the choice between vinyl records and music streaming comes down to personal preference and the listening experience that you are seeking. While vinyl records offer a unique and tactile way to engage with music, they require a certain level of equipment and care to maintain their quality. Music streaming, on the other hand, is convenient and accessible but may sacrifice some sound quality in the process.
The experience: playing a vinyl record versus streaming music on your phone
Playing records compared to streaming music on your phone offers a very different listening experience. Playing vinyl involves a physical ritual that engages multiple senses. To play a vinyl record, you must remove the record from its sleeve, carefully place it on the turntable, adjust the speed and tracking, and lower the needle onto the grooves. As the music plays, you can watch the record spin and enjoy the tactile experience of flipping it over to play the other side. The sound produced by a vinyl record is warm, full-bodied, and often has a unique character that is specific to the format. The experience of listening to a vinyl record is often described as immersive and meditative, as it requires focused attention and invites you to disconnect from other distractions.
Streaming music on your phone, on the other hand, is a highly convenient and portable way to access a vast library of music. With just a few taps on your screen, you can search for and play any song or album from almost anywhere in the world. Streaming services often use complex algorithms to create playlists and recommendations based on your listening habits, which can expose you to new music that you may not have discovered otherwise. However, the experience of streaming music is often less immersive than listening to vinyl, as it is easy to be distracted by other activities on your phone while you listen.
Are you more engaged when playing vinyl?
Research has shown that listening to vinyl records can result in a more intimate, immersive and engaged listening experience compared to streaming music on a digital device. Due to the physicality of choosing and playing a record, that requires effort and attention, resulting in a more invested experience.
When you play a vinyl record, you are forced to engage with the music in a more intentional and focused way. First, looking at the spectacular artwork, perhaps reading the sleeve or track list. You have to physically choose the record, place it on the turntable, adjust the settings, and depending on your turntable, manually lower the needle onto the grooves. This ritual creates a sense of anticipation and excitement as you wait for the music to start playing, with a little crackle here and there. The act of flipping the record over to listen to the other side also provides a natural break and a chance to reflect on the music you just heard.
In contrast, streaming music on your phone is highly convenient and accessible, but it can also be distracting and lack the sense of occasion that comes with playing a vinyl record. With streaming, you can easily skip tracks, change playlists, or switch to a different album with just a few taps on your screen. This constant access to unlimited music can lead to a lack of focus and engagement with the music itself.
Comparing sound quality between vinyl records and streaming music
Vinyl records and streaming music differ in their sound quality due to differences in the way the music is recorded, processed, and delivered.
Vinyl records have physically etched grooves, that produce a unique warm sound that is not replicated in digital formats. Vinyl records are also often mastered differently than digital music, with a greater emphasis on dynamic range and a more natural sound. However, vinyl records can also have surface noise, clicks, and pops due to wear and tear, which can affect the sound quality.
Streaming music, on the other hand, is typically compressed and processed in order to reduce file size and improve streaming speeds. This compression can result in a loss of audio quality, particularly in terms of dynamic range and clarity. However, some streaming services offer high-resolution audio formats that can provide better sound quality, although these formats require more bandwidth and storage space.
Overall, the sound quality of vinyl records and streaming music can differ significantly depending on a number of factors, including the quality of the recording, the mastering process, and the delivery format. While vinyl records have a unique sound quality that is often preferred by audiophiles, streaming music offers the convenience and accessibility of being able to access a vast library of music from almost anywhere in the world.
A record cabinet is a piece of furniture designed to store and organize vinyl records. It typically consists of a wooden cabinet with several shelves or compartments, each of which can hold a stack of records in a vertical position. The shelves may be adjustable to accommodate records of different sizes, and some record cabinets also feature drawers or doors to protect the records from dust and damage. Record cabinets were popular in the mid-20th century, during the heyday of vinyl records, and they are still used by collectors and enthusiasts today.
There are several types of record cabinets available, each with their own unique features and designs. Here are some of the most common types of record cabinets:
Vertical Record Cabinets: These cabinets are designed to store records in a vertical position, typically in a single row. They are ideal for those who have a large collection of records and want to keep them organized and easily accessible.
Horizontal Record Cabinets: These cabinets are designed to store records in a horizontal position, typically in a stack. They are more compact than vertical cabinets and are ideal for those with limited space.
Custom Record Cabinets: Custom record cabinets are designed to meet the specific needs and preferences of individual collectors. They can be built to any size, shape, or style and may feature additional storage compartments or drawers for storing accessories such as turntables, amplifiers, and speakers.
Vintage Record Cabinets: Vintage record cabinets are typically made from wood and feature a classic design that reflects the era when vinyl records were most popular. They are often sought after by collectors and enthusiasts for their unique aesthetic and historical value.
Modern Record Cabinets: Modern record cabinets are designed to meet the needs of contemporary vinyl collectors. They may feature sleek, minimalist designs and be made from materials such as metal, glass, or acrylic. Some modern record cabinets also include built-in Bluetooth speakers and other high-tech features.
Choosing the right record cabinet? What to consider…
When choosing a record cabinet, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you select the best option for your needs. Here are some key considerations:
Storage capacity: Consider the number of records you have and the size of the cabinet you need to store them all. Vertical cabinets typically offer more storage capacity than horizontal cabinets.
Material: Record cabinets can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and plastic. Consider the durability, style, and maintenance requirements of each material before making your choice.
Design and style: Record cabinets come in a variety of designs and styles, from vintage to modern. Consider the aesthetic appeal of the cabinet and how it will fit with the decor of your room.
Accessibility: Look for a record cabinet that makes it easy to access your records when you need them. Consider the height and accessibility of each shelf or compartment.
Protection: Vinyl records are fragile and can be easily damaged. Look for a cabinet that offers protection against dust, moisture, and other environmental factors.
Price: Record cabinets can vary greatly in price, from budget-friendly options to high-end models. Consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend before making your choice.
How to determine the size of your new record cabinet
To determine the size of your new record cabinet, you will need to consider the number of records you have and the available space in your home. Here are the steps to follow:
Count your records: Begin by counting the number of records you have. This will help you determine the storage capacity you need.
Measure your records: Measure the height, width, and thickness of your records. This will help you determine the size of each compartment or shelf in your record cabinet.
Measure your space: Measure the available space in your home where you plan to place your record cabinet. Consider the height, width, and depth of the space to ensure that the cabinet will fit.
Choose the right size: Based on your measurements, choose a record cabinet that will accommodate your collection and fit in your available space. Keep in mind that you may want to leave some room for future growth of your collection.
Consider adjustability: Some record cabinets feature adjustable shelves or compartments, which can be helpful if you have records of different sizes. If you plan to expand your collection, an adjustable cabinet may be a good option.
Overall, the size of your new record cabinet will depend on the number of records you have, the available space in your home, and your future growth plans for your collection.
Record cabinets, and materials available
Record cabinets can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own unique properties and characteristics. Here are some of the most common materials used in record cabinet construction:
Wood: Wood is a popular choice for record cabinets due to its durability and aesthetic appeal. Cabinets made from hardwoods such as oak, walnut, and cherry are particularly prized for their beauty and longevity.
Metal: Metal record cabinets are strong and durable, and are often used in modern or industrial-style interiors. They may be made from steel, aluminium, or other metals.
Plastic: Plastic record cabinets are lightweight and affordable, making them a good choice for those on a budget. They are also resistant to moisture and easy to clean.
Glass: Glass record cabinets offer a sleek and modern look, and allow you to easily view your records. However, they may be fragile and require extra care to prevent breakage.
Acrylic: Acrylic record cabinets are similar in appearance to glass, but are more durable and shatter-resistant. They are also lightweight and easy to clean.
Overall, the material you choose for your record cabinet will depend on your personal preferences, the style of your home, and your budget. Consider the durability, aesthetic appeal, and maintenance requirements of each material before making your choice.
Functionality to consider when choosing a record cabinet
When choosing a record cabinet, it's important to consider its functionality, as well as its aesthetic appeal. Here are some key functionality features to consider:
Record capacity: Consider the number of records you have and make sure the cabinet you choose can accommodate your collection. Look for a cabinet with a high storage capacity that can hold a large number of records.
Accessibility: Look for a cabinet with easy access to your records. Consider the height and accessibility of each shelf or compartment, and make sure you can easily flip through your collection without causing any damage.
Durability: Look for a cabinet made from high-quality materials that are sturdy and durable. Consider the weight capacity of each shelf or compartment, and make sure the cabinet is able to support the weight of your records.
Protection: Vinyl records are fragile and can be easily damaged. Look for a cabinet that offers protection against dust, moisture, and other environmental factors. Consider cabinets with dust covers or sealed compartments that can protect your records from the elements.
Size and design: Consider the size and design of the cabinet, and make sure it fits in the available space in your home. Look for a cabinet with a design that matches your personal style and the decor of your room.
Versatility: Consider whether you want a cabinet that can be used for other purposes as well. Look for a cabinet with additional storage compartments or drawers that can be used to store turntables, amplifiers, and other audio equipment.
Overall, the functionality of your record cabinet is just as important as its aesthetic appeal. By considering the factors above, you can choose a cabinet that meets your needs and protects your valuable vinyl collection.
Does access to flipping records increase the likelihood that you will play more music?
Having easy access to your records can increase the likelihood that you will play more music. When your records are organized and easily accessible, it can be more convenient and enjoyable to flip through your collection and choose something to listen to. On the other hand, if your records are disorganized or stored in a hard-to-reach location, you may be less likely to play them. Having a record cabinet that is designed to provide easy access to your records can make it easier and more enjoyable to explore your collection and discover new music. This can ultimately lead to more frequent use of your turntable and a greater appreciation for your vinyl collection.
What is the average number of records in music lovers’ collections?
The average amount of records in a collection can vary widely depending on the individual. Some people may only have a handful of records, while others may have thousands. According to a survey conducted by Discogs in 2020, the average size of a vinyl record collection was around 110 records. However, it's important to note that this is just an average and there is no set number of records that constitutes a "normal" collection size. The size of your record collection will depend on your personal interests, budget, and collecting habits.
Record cabinets to consider – click the below links
Jimi, Vinyl Station - 300 to 500 vinyl capacity
Joni, Vinyl Station - 100 to 300 vinyl capacity