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back to article Vinyl sales reach 15 year high, Blighty becomes No. 3 music buyer

The UK overtook Germany as the world's third largest music market last year, according to the yearbook from trade association IFPI. The USA and Japan remain the largest two music nations. Revenues from music recordings were about the same as last year - $16.4bn - but a slow shift from physical (down 5 per cent) to legit internet …

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Vinyl

Although it is now a small niche market - I'm not sure if Vinyl will ever die out. In the world of digital its just nice to have something to look at and CD's/ Tapes aren't really as aesthetically pleasing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vinyl

Pity that Ding-Dong! the Witch Is Dead isn't available on Vinyl, just on iTunes & Amazon download - unless I'm mistaken?

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FAIL

The music industry: Still late for their own funeral

Makes you wonder what would happen to the transition rate to digital if the music industry offered high quality digital downloads (ie not MP3), including a data track of lyrics, notes and cover art? I'd guess the margins on downloads have to be far higher than piffling around pressing plastic discs, printing sleeves, assembling these into flimsy cases, shipping them across Europe to loss-making shops and then wondering where all the margin went.

I'm sticking with CDs because I want a DRM free copy (to rip to my mobile), and I want a maximum quality copy for playing through the home hi fi, and have backed up as FLAC (so when the CD corrodes to a purple coaster I've still got the music I've paid for). And admittedly a CD isn't as covetable as a vinyl LP, but at least you can read the lyrics and notes if you've got a good magnifying glass. Of course that doesn't explain the tiny upspring in vinyl sales, presumably where the vinyl luddites are having to restock where cheap Chinese stylii have worn the grooves smooth.

Having been dragged into the digital age reluctantly, kicking and screaming, the music industry still refuse to offer what people want to buy, preferring to hope that people will buy what they want to sell. Sadly that's a business model that seem wildly popular, from PC assemblers, software companies, games developers, mobile phone operators, even governments, you name it, almost all of them vigorously seizing defeat from the jaws of victory.

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Re: The music industry: Still late for their own funeral

Although I'm something of a vinyl luddidite, you still deserve an upvote.

But where are these cheap Chinese styli you speak of? Any self-respecting vluddite will spend as much on a stylus as the rest of the world spends on an iThing, and probably for the same reasons (an elevated life-form has descended to their plane and offers a tangible object thickly encrusted with magic pixie dust).

While like you I'd still tend to buy CDs for convenience and rippability, the weird thing with vinyl is that while objectively speaking it cannot match CD for sound quality, for most types of music the deficiencies of vinyl are less annoying than those of CD.

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Meh

Re: The music industry: Still late for their own funeral

I held out on digital downloads for a long time. Preferring to get the CD then rip to a lossless format for my server and players. But I gave in last year. I eventually got tired of waiting for lossless downloads and with the crappy production standards of modern music (things like The Loudness War) and advancing age I decided I was probably deluding myself that I could hear a difference. And if I could I might be hearing defects rather than music anyway.

I think the simple answer is that most people just don't care enough. A true music enthusiast might find that appalling but I'm more sanguine. Music doesn't exist 'just because' - it exists to entertain and give enjoyment. It still seems to be doing that so I struggle to get really worked up over the issues of delivery media.

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Re: The music industry: @Mark Honman

"But where are these cheap Chinese styli you speak of?" Err, I made that bit up. If this was an arts 'n' farts website I'd claim artistic licence, but in the circumstances it is probably better to 'fess up that I simply made it up, with not a jot of supporting evidence.

And that was simply to poke a bit of fun at the vinylites. I remember my Dual 505, and all the magic of LPs. There was certainly something reverential, symbolic and almost religious about the process of sliding an LP out of its cover, thence from the lined sleeve, gently holding the fragile platter, placing it on the rotating altar, starting the motor, lifting the tonearm into position, and then gently lowering the needle onto the run-in.

On the other hand, the sound quality was dreadful, commercial pressings of the most atrocious quality, and your music was trapped in whatever room became your music temple. And the deficiencies are a subjective choice - the wave like hiss of a warped or off-centre-holed platter were objectionable to me, as was the crackles of dust and lint.

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Re: The music industry: @Mark Honman

> On the other hand, the sound quality was dreadful, commercial pressings of the most atrocious quality

You must be a fellow South African, then... one of the big benefits of visiting the UK in the early 1990s was to buy some decent LPs. On the other hand classical LPs were of brilliant quality (N.O.T. pressed in SA, obviously) and any warps were my own fault, really. What used to drive me nuts was end-of-side distortion...

There is the whole quasi-religious thing you describe, and it's hard to even guess at how much that affects the perception of sound quality (or one might put it, the index of overall satisfaction gained from playing an album).

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Re: The music industry: @Mark Honman

>I'm sticking with CDs because I want a DRM free copy (to rip to my mobile), and I want a maximum quality copy for playing through the home hi fi

The best quality digital format is not CD, but via download (up to 192Khz, 24bit from HDTracks.com or example- I haven't used them so this isn't a recommendation) or BluRay. Though yeah, it is nice to have something to hold, and good to have a CD if your server somehow dies.

Curiously, the biggest illegal downloader of music that I know is also the biggest buyer of CDs, vinyl and DVDs.

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Re: The music industry: @Mark Honman

The sound quality of vinyl fell through the floor during the mid 70s through the 80s as they used lower quality vinyl and made it a lot thinner.

In addition, albums increased in length due to the limits in time being expanded by Tape/CD, and manufacturers often ended up trying to cram everything onto a single record. A 12" LP doesn't really lend itself to an hour of music on a single disc and even 45 minutes begins to push it. That lead to tighter and less deep grooves.

Combine those two elements, and yup, Vinyl can sound pretty crap.

The resurgence is partially due to using decent quality vinyl, and often on double albums or greater. And shoving in a digital download code (or even a CD) so you still easily copy to your digital music player of choice helps sell them very well.

I'm quite happy to buy vinyl as my primary format. The legal downloads do help, but for my money, the tactile nature and involvement of vinyl easily beats the indifference of shoving my iPod on shuffle and never listening to an album as it was intended to be played.

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Happy

Re: The music industry: @Mark Honman

In addition, albums increased in length due to the limits in time being expanded by Tape/CD, and manufacturers often ended up trying to cram everything onto a single record

I remember my brother's copy of Olivia Newton-John's greatest hits(*) that came on a single disc. Each track was less than 10mm wide with almost no visible gap between them. I think it was about 90 minutes in total.

(*)Well, okay. I confess. I quite liked listening to it as well(**).

(**)Okay, okay. I also confess I bought the CD a few years back and ripped it to my collection(***).

(***)Which also includes a couple of Eminem albums and Cheryl Cole. I have wide tastes in music. Got some Beethoven on there as well.

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So

When I go to Amanda Palmers website and buy her digital music direct does this show on these charts?

Same with Jonathon Coulton, Paul and Storm etc..

Let alone sales of CDs at shows - are those included?

If not then surely the charts are as out of date as the 'music industry'.

ttfn

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Re: So

Those sales are statistically insignificant. When you can point to an entire class of retail activity and put a value on it in the 100s of $m the 'new emerging DIY label-free recording industry' point becomes valid.

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Trollface

Re: So

Not that Amanda Palmer who is so cheap she likes her musicians to "play for beer" by any chance:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/14/amanda_palmer_play_for_beer/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/21/afp_pays/

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Re: So

Downvoted for liking Amanda Fricken Palmer!

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Re: So

The charts were always only ever based on a snapshot of sales at a selection of record shops around the country. They were never an absolutely accurate representation of precisely how many records were sold, merely an extrapolation of sample data.

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Re: So

:-)

I didn't say I liked her ('Ukulele Anthem' -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZaR_4us6Ec- is worth a listen to though) - only that I have purchased her music.

My point is that nowadays there are more ways to purchase music and I doubt that the 'charts' are at all representative of what people are actually buying.

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Re: So

"The charts were always only ever based on a snapshot of sales at a selection of record shops around the country"

And the record industry knew which ones, and would send cars loaded with their latest singles to them, bribe the manager to "buy" them, and thus buy a place in the charts. I used to work with a bloke who drove one of the cars. I've no idea how they manipulate the digital charts, but the record industry aren't one to change their spots, so I'm sure that the charts are as trustworthy as they've always been.

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Vinyl

When CDs were introduced, I was always kind of surprised that didn't just sell CD in vinyl-style sleeves, instead opting for nasty little boxes. Arguably, a nasty CD box takes up more room (width-ways) than an LP. And we do so miss those covers.

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Re: Vinyl

Partially it's because the 'indestructable' CDs are vulnerable to the chemicals in paper. There was a spate of CD singles in the late 80's - early 90's that were released in cardboard slip cases, but the discs ended up coroded and pitted within months.

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Re: Vinyl

I wonder if some of the covers weren't actually more covetted than the vinyl itself ......Some of them were quite literally works of art.

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Re: Vinyl

especially the case with double albums where the space available allowed for some amazing art while still showcasing the artist(s)

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Re: Vinyl

To be fair, many subsequent CD's that never made it onto LP had excellent cover art. Unfortunately it never shows up on the small and often poorly printed CD booklet.

And if the music industry have refused to play ball with digital music, the purveyors of digital music software have been shamefully neglectful of album notes, credits and art. Your typically music player programme is happy with a 200x200 thumbnail of the original cover art, which may suit the disposal music buyers, but all of the main players don't make the most of what could be there.

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Re: Vinyl

CDs are vulnerable to the chemicals in paper

Maybe the card is different now. I'm seeing an increase in card slip covers on the CDs I buy. I can't say I like them as they get marked too easily but at least growing new raw material is an option.

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Re: Vinyl

Chemicals in paper shouldn't matter. Vinyl disks always had a plastic lined inner sleeve, so could CDs.

The other thing is that 12 inch sleeves wouldn't fit through letterboxes, which would snooker Amazon et al. Perhaps HMV and others on the high street could do something there.

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Face it, vinyl sucks

Dust, scratches, pain in the ass to use. The only context in which it was good was as compared to Ferrous cassette tapes played through cheap Dolby decks. If people nowadays get off on the nostalgia experience, good for them, but let us not kid ourselves that it is in any rational way a good medium.

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Re: Face it, vinyl sucks

Vinyl has a greater dynamic range than CD-format digital recordings. That only comes into play on certain types of music though, and in general I find the Snap/Crackle/Pop of vinyl more than outweighs the small advantages. I'll stick to 1s and 0s, but whatever floats people's boat format-wise, well, good for them.

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Re: Face it, vinyl sucks

Not much more a pain in the ass as CDs. Slightly more annoying to rip onto your computer, that's true. But then 90% of LPs sold nowadays include a download code, which can often be for .wav files, if not a CD too.

Now if you want to moan, here's a good one: Audio cassettes are making a bit of a comeback too. MGMT's upcoming album is getting a cassette release for RSD eg.

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Re: Face it, vinyl sucks

joeW - Vinyl has a greater dynamic range than CD-format digital recordings...

Don't fall for this nonsense! Vinyl has a dynamic range at its very best of somewhere around 65-70dB, though it's rarely achieved outside of the most expensive audiophile pressings (and to be honest some of these are very ropey, especially given their ridiculous prices).

On the other hand every bog standard 16-bit CD has a dynamic range of 93dB. Though whether music producers choose to use that dynamic range is a different matter...

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Gav
Holmes

Re: Face it, vinyl sucks

People who believe they can hear a greater dynamic range on vinyl are either;

- deluding themselves

- concentrating so much on the sound that they're not listening to the music

And if it's the later, then they also must be hearing all the wow, flutter, warps, rumbles, crosstalk and scratches. Now they might find that part of the fun of being an audiophile, but I just want to listen to the music.

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Re: Face it, vinyl sucks

I disagree. I think CDs are better than vinyl in every way, and not just by a small amount, but by a huge margin. Eg the noise floor on a CD is so low it almost can't be measured.

Vinyl is still a lovely thing, but instead of being the best technical medium, it has become a work of art. Same goes for the equipment. My Goldring-Lenko GL-75 turntable, circa 1974, is in the loft but only because my house is small. It will be coming out if/when i get a bigger place.

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Headmaster

Re: Face it, vinyl sucks

"I think CDs are better than vinyl in every way, and not just by a small amount, but by a huge margin. Eg the noise floor on a CD is so low it almost can't be measured."

And one of these days - and I've been pointing this issue out since the first days of CD - people will realize that noise floor means SQUAT as relative to music.

Proof? Unquestionable proof?! Easy. Which would you rather listen to: Miles Davis playing in the middle of Oxford Street / Times Square, or your 8-year old sister playing in the back study?

Case closed.

There is MUCH more to music quality that simply dynamic range and noise floor, folks.

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Meh

st4630ls

Shouldn't the headline be "hipsters have jobs and by stuff!". I bet Fedora sales are through the roof as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: st4630ls

Fedora isn't sold so its awfully hard to say that its sales are through the roof. RHEL maybe, but not Fedora.

You may want to simply say "hipster hat", as this is a tech website, not a haberdashers.

If you say Fedora around here people will automatically think of the GNU/Linux distribution (TBH, thats why I read your post instead of ignoring it), and not so much an item of clothing my grandfather and a legion of dumbfuck hipsters find fashionable.

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Happy

Re: st4630ls

touche

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Bronze badge

Have you seen the price of used vinyl ?

In that temple of old tat *, your local charity shop, the price of LPs varies wildly between £1 and £4+

Often more expensive than CDs. And I'm impressed by the keen types (dealers ?) who riffle through the LP stacks. ignoring the , to me, more attractive titles on CD. All of which suggests there's a strong collector market for vinyl. By contrast I only buy music I want to listen to, in whatever format -- and though I own four high quality turntables -- I prefer CD for convenience.

*can you believe so many people once owned Max Bygraves LPs

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Re: Have you seen the price of used vinyl ?

Charity shops can be either have no clue or be extremely clued up when it comes to vinyl.

If you really want to see what's currently desirable, look at prices of decent 90's vinyl on ebay (i.e. suede, my bloody valentine). MBV vinyl goes for more than a bitcoin.

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Re: Have you seen the price of used vinyl ?

@ CherylWillBounceBack

And what are these My Bloody Valentine and Suede of which you speak ?

Popular beat combos, I'll wager !

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I salute

The vinyl people who admit that CD's (when mastered and mixed correctly) are generally better, however I also respect that fact there is something about vinyl that is nice, that said, in this day and age, I get a fuzzy feeling over fondling a new CD ( or any CD) more so than looking at my computer screen with thousands of songs ( albeit it some in glorious 24/96 and 192 uncompressed) I get even less fuzzy when looking at the display of said I-device or equivalent, although for shear I WANT IT NOW-ness the I-Hell store is pretty good especially for the boppy fun pop tracks and for knocking up a good party mix without having to resort to wires cases discs equipment etc.

I still have the first CD I ever bought (and LP, though the bulk of them were not shipped across when I moved to the ex colonies) I still have my first good quality personal stereo and one of many minidisc players/recorders

I am looking for a decent affordable LP player to move some of the ageing discs to digital.

I think it is something we get used to how we grew up, my kid(s) do not care for physical media and tend to treat it horribly, they are happy with their loud obnoxious low quality music (that said my 2nd gen ipod is about 5 times louder then the current gen ipod at full blast and no avc, my kid still going deaf though, won't listen to the Ageing P when I say that those bloody earbuds will do damage at full volume for hours...)

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Re: I salute -- a decent record player

@ SirDigalot

"I am looking for a decent affordable LP player to move some of the ageing discs to digital."

You can't go far wrong with a used classic Thorens turntable. The belt drive and soft suspension isn't ideal for cueing up but offers good isolation, thus better sound. Modestly priced Thorens TD160 and 166 usually have decent arms fitted. The top of the range TD125 and later successors are easier to cue and sound great.

For convenience, the Technics SL12 (favoured disco deck) and later versions of direct drive model have instant start and non-wobbly suspension. Arm and isolation not great and they are still £200 upwards secondhand.

For a new turntable see Project range. Avoid turntables with USB output -- most are of lightweight construction and brands have no hifi provenance.

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Anonymous Coward

Makes sense

Buying CDs or legal downloads is a lot cheaper than a ten thousand Euro fine and jail time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Makes sense

Ahh the BPI have come into the room.

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Anonymous Coward

2012

2012: Year of the hipster

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Holmes

@MakesSense

I spend a lot of time listening to Radio Caroline these days...

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I like vinyl. Call me a luddite if you will, but my US import 12"s on big fat virgin vinyl that you could drive a tractor over without scratching them, still sound rather good today. Never really bought much in the way of recycled vinyl pressings, for the reasons mentioned above. Still playing the occasional dnb set off vinyl, and loving the fact that I'm not relying on a robosampler to match the beats. Course, it does mean that I don't get as much time to pump my fist in the air, or look at my facebook feed on a mobe, but hey, that's showbiz.

One of my hobbies is digitising and restoring old 78s and 45s from the days of yore, and I'm pleasantly surprised by how many of them are still in pretty good nick, after 50-60 years of existence. Shellac is very fragile, so the fact that it's still playable is a testament to the loving care afforded these historical documents by their owners. Compare that to the way cds magically accumulate pizza grease and scuffmarks. Maybe vinyl just feels less "disposable" than cds, so people treat it more gently, as befits its age..

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@ bag o' spanners

You'd probably enjoy early Motown UK pressings (by EMI). I have mono copies of early Supremes LP in appalling condition. But the rather few, short songs (poorish value was the norm with pop LPs) mean high cutting levels and any noise just gets lost in the deliriously wonderful music.

Also adore early Decca stereo pressings circa 1958 -- a range of fabulous sounding classical pieces with quaint cover art. Boomy bass, rather overcompressed perhaps, but warm valve/tube sound. There's a website in S. Korea devoted to British Decca discs of the period.

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Devil

Singing fat lady? Adele has a new album out??

OK, that was cruel, but the girl has let herself go a bit....

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Anonymous Coward

Not lack of knowledge, but lack of will

"*It's a mystery why the entertainment industries never effectively bridged the gap between physical footfall and download sales. We were writing about M2M retail technology - which beamed songs to your phone or music player - more than a decade ago, back when it was commonplace to get information beamed to your Palm PDA."

No mystery. You see, digital delivery means hard and verifiable delivery numbers.

The entire music industry is run on fraudulent popularity and sales and has since before we were born. Boxes of stock can be made to disappear and reappear at will whereas digital accounting provides far more accountability than is comfortable for grifters.

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