A sound investment

November 27, 2016 11:00 AM
If you believe vinyl albums are as obsolete as open outcry and bright trading jackets, you have not been to a music store (yes, they still exist) lately.

If you believe vinyl albums are as obsolete as open outcry and bright trading jackets, you have not been to a music store (yes, they still exist) lately. Vinyl albums sales increased 223% to 6.06 million units in 2015, and sales continue to gain momentum. With sales on track to surpass eight million units, the vinyl market continues to become a bigger piece of the physical music business.

Recent findings from the 2016 Nielsen Mid-Year U.S. Music Report suggest that there is no substitute for analog sound. The predictions that these products would have only a niche following also turned out to be true.

“It was an underground held up by DJs, punk and indie rock,” Billy Fields, the vice president at Warner Music Group that oversees vinyl for the company, said in a Billboard article.

But that’s not to say vinyl buyers are luddites. MusicWatch reported people that buy vinyl are more likely than the average music consumer to listen to Internet radio, follow artists on social media and stream on-demand music. They are heavy music consumers that want something beyond digital files or CDs.

Music patrons of 2006 underestimated their own desire for nostalgia, for exceptional sound — vinyl is the best representation of a recording — and for a closer connection to artists. Digital music has been such a refreshing change from CDs that many consumers have not yet realized its inadequacies.

“Digital delivered the one thing the business thought the consumer wanted, convenience,” says Fields. “But [it didn’t] strengthen the connection between the music and the fan. When you reduce the visual marker to a thumbnail, it’s not like holding a CD let alone a 12” LP.” 

And while the 2000s were filled with alarms that the music industry would lose a generation to piracy, those feared revolutions have proven far from reality. Not only do young consumers now have legal streaming services that were either new at the time (Pandora and Spotify) they have become fond of an analog product.
Thankfully, there is now a record club, VNYL, that has introduced a stylish new turntable at the convergence of vinyl and digital that helps vinyl collectors convert their vinyl collections. 

The Trntbl is the world’s first wireless record player that identifies vinyl and shares via streaming digital devices and on social media in real time. As a first Internet of things product, Trntbl introduces wireless audio streaming and social music sharing by identifying the music — while it is spinning on vinyl—with the public, in real time. Trntbl also supports a live tune-in system, never before available to consumers, currently available exclusively on Spotify.

“Trntbl will do its best to find where the songs exists elsewhere, like YouTube or Apple Music, and present an alternate way for a friend or follower to discover the song,” says Nick Alt, VNYL’s Founder.

Vinyl LPs now comprise nearly 12% of the physical music business in the first half of 2016. But the format has been revived for a new generation of music fans and has helped keep independent music stores in business. 

As an analog medium in a digital world, the vinyl market is doing better than it has in a while: making up 3.4% of album sales and 6% of physical sales, the number of vinyl units sold grew by 52% last year, to 9.2 million copies (up from 6.1 million in 2013); and for the seventh straight year, more vinyl albums were sold than in any other year since Nielsen Holdings PLC started tracking music sales in 1991. 

Vinyl, for the most part, escaped the “loudness war.” With the rise and rise of digital music, it has become possible to artificially engineer a track louder than it naturally should be. The problem is that it has a massively detrimental result on audio quality causing songs to sound distorted. Because vinyl is an analog format, it’s doesn’t really suffer from the same problems. 

“We believe Trntbl can take center stage in your home. The player is beautifully designed to make listening to vinyl more accessible for this new and growing audience of premium music listeners,” says Alt.

Next to come, VNYL will integrate Trntbl with AirPlay and Bluetooth devices including external speakers and wireless headphones with its patent-pending technology.

“We look forward to connecting a new generation of vinyl lovers by way of the built-in sharing and community features of Trntbl,” says Alt.

About the Author

Tamarah Webb is the associate editor for Modern Trader magazine and Futuresmag.com. She was born in Hawaii and has moved numerous times being privileged to live in places around the world through the military. Tamarah is a recent journalism alumna of Columbia College Chicago where she minored in cultural studies.