According to an article in The Economist, sales of vinyl LPs
are running 39% higher this year in the US. Last years’ biggest selling LP was The Suburbs from Arcade Fire. That’s not
exactly an audiophile favorite.
What’s obvious from these sales numbers is that most of this
new sales growth is from hipsters, not audiophiles. Sure the two categories can
overlap, but most audiophiles aren’t the ones scarfing up albums by Bob Iver
and the Fleet Foxes.
Interestingly, the Economist doesn’t list “sonic quality” as
one of the reasons folks are buying vinyl. Coolness is the driving force behind
the vinyl resurgence. According to Steve Redmond, who’s a spokesperson for
Britain’s Annual Record Store Day, vinyl “is just cooler than a download.” The
article also mentions as an aside that half the records being sold “are not
actually being played.” Since many vinyl albums also come with a download code,
fans are buying the albums, downloading the music via the code, and not
listening to the vinyl at all. Some purchasers probably don’t even own a
turntable! Ah, the coolness factor.
One final quote from the article, “Now that almost every track
is available free on music-streaming services like Spotify or on a pirate
website, music fans need something else to boast about. That limited-edition
12-inch in translucent blue vinyl will do nicely.”
Any audiophile who believes the “vinyl resurgence” is due in
any part to the inherent sonic superiority of vinyl releases has been smoking
something WAY stronger than I can get legally in Colorado…