The Death of the Vinyl LP?
Many music lovers who have accumulated a myriad of vinyl LPs over the decades – especially during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – cherish their collections. Such complications are highly coveted and often treated as antiquities, which are sometimes played from time to time on traditional record players.
As such, it’s quite a reach for Tower Records to make the executive decision to clear their shelves of vinyl records indefinitely. After all, it’s this chain that has serviced London with music for years, and has peppered the city with the biggest music stores.
Low Demand to Blame for a Lull in Vinyl Sales
Their reasoning for putting an end to vinyl record sales is a clear one – the demand is simply too low. They simply cannot justify lining their shelves with this old format at a mere 15% of total sales. Another big chain – W.H. Smith, which has 300 music stores across Britain – is said to be weaning vinyl LPs out of half of their music stores over the next few years.
Aside from Tower Records, other big names in music chains – like Virgin, HMV and Our Price Music – will continue to stock vinyl, for now anyway. As long as there is a clear demand for it, they’ll keep stocking it.
Record companies will only supply what consumers are demanding, and without this, vinyl seems doomed. Tracks that are currently available on vinyl are diminishing every month, particularly in the jazz and classical genres. CD sales outshot vinyl sales by 50% in Britain last year.
But many critics aren’t pointing their fingers at consumers, and instead are placing the blame squarely on the music industry for essentially pushing consumers towards CDs, rather than vinyl.
It’s All About the Tradition
What music industry execs fail to recognize is that many music lovers aren’t exactly looking for something that offers hours of pre-programmed music, perfect audio, and convenient electronic gadgets, as is the case with CDs. Instead, what they covet is the tradition of owning and mulling over their vinyl album covers and sleeves. It’s simply a cherished art form that they wouldn’t replace in a million years.
Despite the seeming demise of the vinyl LP, there are groups out there who are resisting the take-over of CDs over vinyl. Most notable among these protesters is John Peel, a BBC radio DJ who would much rather give up his job than rely on CDs to play his music on the air, though he does admit that vinyl is most likely ill-fated.
“A society that has already been sold the burger and the vaginal deodorant is not going to resist something as gaudy as the CD,” Peel wrote in the London Evening Standard.
Heavy metal and punk bands probably wince at the thought of their music being available only on the little silver discs we call CDs, and not the classic vinyl LP that die-hard music fans of the 60’s and 70’s knew of, and preferred. It’s as if the groove and hip that were part and parcel of the golden age of music is dying off with vinyl.