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Music Entertainment

Vinyl Records Outsold Digital Downloads In the UK Last Week (adweek.com) 188

Sales of vinyl outstripped those of downloaded music for the first time since the advent of digital downloads last week in the UK. From a report on AdWeek: The U.K.-based Entertainment Retailers Association, or ERA, said Monday that Britons spent 2.4 million pounds ($3.03 million) on the old-school wax last week while only doling out 2.1 million pounds ($2.65 million) for digital downloads. Vinyl Factory, a website dedicated to records, reported that those numbers represent a big change from the same week in 2015, when just 1.2 million pounds was spent on records compared with 4.4 million on digital downloads. That's a 100 percent year-over-year increase in vinyl sales and also the first time that vinyl album sales have bested digital downloads over a weeklong period in years, per Vinyl Factory. The surge in vinyl sales could be attributed to the popularity of vinyl as a Christmas gift and the growing number of retailers. You know it's a gift because, as BBC adds: But 48% of those surveyed said they did not play the vinyl they bought -- while 7% did not even own a turntable.
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Vinyl Records Outsold Digital Downloads In the UK Last Week

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  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @03:49PM (#53435531)
    Vinyl is the new coffee table book that people are expected to see but not read.
    • Vinyl is the new coffee table book that people are expected to see but not read.

      And thanks to the hipster Millennial, sales statistics are something we're expected to value but not understand.

      Gee, look at that...Nordstrom is selling a fucking rock for $85 [nordstrom.com].

      Just in time for the holidays...

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Now that vinyl has become mainstream again, cue the inevitable backlash from the hipsters.

      I was into that band way before they became popular. That makes me better than you.

  • I ran into someone buying vinyl that didn't even realize he needed a turntable to play it. Just following the popularity mob.
    • I ran into someone buying vinyl that didn't even realize he needed a turntable to play it.

      See, the vinyl is too thin for a USB jack. So you need an adapter to play it.

  • Only downloads? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KozmoStevnNaut ( 630146 ) <henrikstevn@LISPgmail.com minus language> on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @03:54PM (#53435577)

    By far the majority of digitally distributed music is streamed, not downloaded.

    Downloaded music is a niche market.

    • I'm not sure how niche it really is. There are a lot of people selling download music which means there must be a decent sized market. There again, cost to market is pretty low and low overhead for selling download music so who knows.

      I've always though it poor fiscal decision to stream and pay for music over and over again rather than pay for music one time. There again, I have a large collection of music, in part, courtesy of BMG in the 90's, and I probably only download one or two albums a year. So wh

    • By far the majority of digitally distributed music is streamed, not downloaded.

      I also believed that, but RIAA report [riaa.com] linked from TFA says otherwise: 34% downloads, 34,3% streaming and 28.8% physical.

  • by sl3xd ( 111641 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @03:56PM (#53435585) Journal

    Because of the Loudness War [wikipedia.org], Vinyl really does sound better, because it can't be abused the same way digital recordings can. There's only so much the needle will tolerate.

    It's not because Vinyl is "better" -- it's because the mastering on the digital formats is appalling.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 )

      Because of the Loudness War [wikipedia.org], Vinyl really does sound better, because it can't be abused the same way digital recordings can. There's only so much the needle will tolerate.

      It's not because Vinyl is "better" -- it's because the mastering on the digital formats is appalling.

      While I would be happy to find that the Loudness War is losing in some way, don't believe for a second the idiot hipster buying vinyl today is actually doing it because of shitty music quality.

      We're talking about a generation who thinks ear buds and YouTube make for an amazing music experience...

      • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

        At what point did consumer generation come into play? The only data is that Vinyl is outselling digital downloads.

        I certainly know my share of Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers who are also think earbuds & youtube are amazing.

        • At what point did consumer generation come into play? The only data is that Vinyl is outselling digital downloads.

          And yet with 48% of them not planning on using the vinyl they purchased, and 7% of them not even owning hardware to play it, I'm only left wondering how many of them even know what a turntable is, hence the hipster assumption to justify 3x the cost for the same music in a different format.

          I certainly know my share of Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers who are also think earbuds & youtube are amazing.

          This is true, but more to my point, a very small percentage of people even know why music quality is so shitty, or what the Loudness War is, and it would appear that most of the vinyl purchases were done out of artist char

        • by Jamu ( 852752 )
          Their hearing isn't what it used to be.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Actually there are some pretty good high end earbuds, like the Yuin PK range. And in-ear monitors can be absolutely exceptional, some of the best headphones of any type on the market in terms of sound quality. It's no wonder really, since they both cut out most external sound and only require a relatively small (and thus easy to make rigid and to control) driver to produce ample volume.

        Check the Head-Fi forums, a lot of audiophiles love earbuds and monitors, and often drive them from portable devices.

        YouTub

    • by Verdatum ( 1257828 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @05:07PM (#53436125)
      I'm sure there are exceptions, but it's not like producers routinely do an entirely separate mixdown for vinyl when they release modern stuff in multiple-formats. They make one mix, and if causes the needle to skip over, they limit the entire track on the vinyl until it doesn't. The ratio between the amount of quiet portions and loud portions (dynamic range) doesn't change, it's just that the overall amplitude is reduced. Absolutely nothing prevents producers from making CDs with high dynamic range. Compressing the dynamics in order to up the loudness was done on CDs because they could, and because they were finding it helped sell more albums when you had more loudness to make you stand out over the competition.

      By all means, go buy an original vinyl album in good condition instead of a "Remastered anniversary edition", where, yeah, they tend to compress the mix and amplify the result. Or go buy a vinyl album because you are a DJ who actually knows how to spin vinyl. Or shit, go buy vinyl because you're nostalgic for the way things used to be, if that's what you're in to. But don't buy vinyl because you think it's gonna sound better than digital. That is, unless you group together the hiss of a low-quality hi-fi setup, and the clicks and pops from mishandling an record over time somehow improve the sound. And even if you do want that, There's an App for That.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        That's not correct. The problem isn't really the needle jumping, it's the needle wearing quickly and actually wearing down the record too. Heavily clipped tracks look like a square wave, smashing the needle back and forth.

        There used to be machines that would tell you if your mix was okay for vinyl based on various standards for its manufacture. These days there are digital plug-ins.

        As proof, compare these three versions of the same Santana album:

        CD, terrible: http://dr.loudness-war.info/al... [loudness-war.info]
        "High def" 48/2

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      This is a myth, reducing the dynamic range would mean a needle is requires less vertical travel. Its also unlikely publishers are going spend extra money to separately master a format that accounts for a very small portion of their revenue.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Digital recorded music on vinyl is like dehydrated chicken in a home made soup mix.

    You do not gain anything from going from digital to analog back and gain all of the wow, flutter, pop, hiss, etc.

    Those that claim more 'warmth' are fooling themselves. Sure. Back when analog recordings were made vinyl was better. But once you lose the quality from the digitization process it is lost for good. Why is it so hard to realize that the music today is 99.99% recorded digitally and that is where the problem is.

    If

    • You do not gain anything from going from digital to analog back and gain all of the wow, flutter, pop, hiss, etc.

      If you don't convert your digital music back to analog at some point, how are you supposed to listen to it?

      • One is Analog microphones + digital effects & synths -> digital recording -> analog conversion through speakers which vibrates your ear.

        The other is Analog microphones + digital effects & synths -> digital recording -> analog recording -> conversion to voltages which are amplified -> conversion to speakers which move your ears

        Honestly, as long as the digital sample rate is high enough (these days, it always is) and you listen to the record on a quality hi-fi, and you take care

    • once you lose the quality from the digitization process it is lost for good.

      Lose what quality? 44.1KHz/16bit (CD quality) is way beyond what LP, reel-to-reel or even the much-vaunted master tapes can manage.

      It sounds to me like you don't understand digital audio at all. You should watch this video: https://xiph.org/video/vid2.sh... [xiph.org]

  • >while 7% did not even own a turntable.

    It's like Humble Bundles and steam sales, turned into real life.

    HOWEVER, it should be noted. People buy plenty of stuff for various reasons other than the media itself. Many people never open their "collectors edition" stuff. It's about owning something, not necessarily playing it.

    I own Demolition Man on LaserDisk, as well as Sega CD. I love that movie. I've didn't have the Laser Disk player when I bought it. And I still haven't watched it on LaserDisk. It's not abo

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @04:01PM (#53435631)
    it is scratched.
  • I could finally get a needle for my old turntable. They had literally disappeared from the local music stores over here.
    • Buy a laser pickup turntable. There's no physical contact with the grooves, so no degradation just from playing your record.

      Also, some of them come with optical scratch recognition and correction, so even pre-existing damage (within limits) doesn't affect the sound.

      • Buy a laser pickup turntable. There's no physical contact with the grooves, so no degradation just from playing your record.

        Last I heard, they don't work on coloured vinyl because it's translucent. Which is a bit unfortunate, since a lot of the 'Now for the first time on vinyl!' reissues are doing just that.

      • Only $15,000.
      • It's crap.

        Unlike a normal turntable, where the stylus helps push aside dust, the laser turntable plays back EVERYTHING, which necessitates ridiculously heavy-handed click and noise reduction, which murders the sound quality.

        You're much better off with an ordinary setup of decent turntable and a decent cartridge. My SL-1210 Mk2 and a good Ortofon cartridge cost me $360, and will beat the laser turntable for sound quality any day of the week.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        As far as I know there is one guy in Japan still making those. Are there any other laser turntable manufacturers out there these days?

        Personally I just rip to 24/44.1 on the first play, normalize the volume level and export as 16/44.1 FLAC. Record gets played once, baring any screw ups.

      • Dude, you are totally taking the fun out of it :)
    • You should've stuck with the old 78s, all they required was a fresh cactus needle.
  • 1st. You can buy a single digital song, but are forced to buy an entire LP.
    2nd. An LP can costs more of the sum of the single digital songs.
    3rd. Digital songs have a larger market, thus lower prices.
  • by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <<EnsilZah> <at> <Gmail.com>> on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @04:23PM (#53435797)

    Have we just reached peak hipster?

  • by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @04:30PM (#53435857)
    This trend has less to do with the increasing vinyl sales and more to do with the fact that more and more people are getting their digital music from a subscription service vs buying it outright. Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Google, and Apple music services are gobbling up digital sales.
    • I think this trend also has to do with where these articles are getting their numbers. From what I'm seeing, the ERA might not get a full report on all digital download sales from the UK; while they probably are privy to nearly all vinyl sales.
    • by lazarus ( 2879 )

      There is another aspect to this that I have not seen mentioned yet too. When you buy a vinyl album you will often get either download codes or FLAC files or in the case of a retailer like Amazon they add the digital version right into your amazon music library.

      So you don't actually have to play the vinyl if you don't want to -- but you still have music that you can hold in your f*cking hand and know that you own it.

  • If you go used you can get things that are not available any more and can't be found on youtube or anywhere else.
    • I mostly buy LPs so I can have the albums I grew up with on tape, in their original intended format. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Procol Harum, all of that stuff.

      I have some newer albums on LP as well, but I've stopped buying those, since they don't really make much sense. I would much rather have the exact same master as a digital file instead. I do make exceptions for tour singles that are only released on vinyl, autographed albums and a small selection of stoner/doom metal/rock bands, where I think the for

  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @05:08PM (#53436149) Homepage Journal

    Given how close the amounts are, and that vinyl costs quite a bit more per album, it's pretty clear this is still far fewer purchases. In fact, given that vinyl is more a fad (with half of them never being played), this could easily be accounted for by the same number of sales at twice the price each.

    In other words, this isn't particularly meaningful data, except that audiophiles haven't gotten any less gullible in the last year.

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @05:27PM (#53436291)

    that Britons spent 2.4 million pounds ($3.03 million) on the old-school wax last week while only doling out 2.1 million pounds ($2.65 million) for digital downloads.

    So, its about turnover rather than numbers of sales. Lets have a look on Amazon...

    Thought so:
    Dark side of the moon vinyl: £18.98
    Dark side of the moon digital download: £7.99
    ...or stream for £0 if you already have Amazon Prime
    ...or rip the CD you bought in 1988 for £0
    ...or screw over those poor, penniless artists and torrent for £0.

    So, yeah, you can see why the turnover on vinyl is tasty.

    Got to hand it to the music industry: after getting everybody to replace all their vinyl with CDs in the 80s, it must have been so frustrating when the next big format let you convert all your CDs for free, but now they've gone back to the drawing board, applied themselves and found a wheeze to get everybody to replace all of their MP3s with vinyl again... so it looks like vinyl may even outlive the CD.

    Remember guys - store all your CDs carefully for the grandkids so they're ready for the big 16-bit revival in 2050...

  • I'm one of those weirdo's who buys vinyl without owning a record player. It's mainly because I get something that is a beautiful large collector's item, it costs a tiny bit more than the CD and I already have the digital version so vinyl represents a distinct version of the music. I fully intend to one day buy a record player and listen to all my records, but I'm in no rush.

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