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Vinyl’s comeback - a welcome return or an outdated fad?

PUBLISHED: 11:00 07 March 2017

Vinyl enthusiasts shopping at Soundclash on St Benedicts Street, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams

Vinyl enthusiasts shopping at Soundclash on St Benedicts Street, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016

There were many bizarre trends during 2016 - I still find myself pondering the reasons behind fads like the Mannequin Challenge. One trend that captured my eye however, was the magnificent resurgence in vinyl sales.

The British Phonographic Industry reported that more than 3.2m records were sold last year, showing a 53pc increase from 2015.

The last time vinyl was selling this many units was 1991 and The Silence of the Lambs was still playing in cinemas.

Vinyl, which many may think of as antiquated or redundant, actually overtook digital downloads during a week in the run-up to Christmas, with vinyl making £2.4m compared to £2.1m made by downloads.

This feat is even more impressive when we consider that streaming services boast such a large audience, allowing their customers access to millions of songs at the touch of a button. Spotify, one of the leading services, announced last year it had reached more than 100m users.

The reasons behind vinyl’s resurgence are varied because, after all, people buy records for many different reasons.

For older generations records may just be the format they are most familiar with, with them also rekindling the feeling of their music-laced youth.

However, this doesn’t explain the sudden rise in sales - this lies mostly with the younger generation.

Young people are flocking to record stores across the country to purchase their favourite albums on a format that can only be described as real and tangible.

The record, as a product, manifests the artistic desire and creative passions the artist intended it to have - two things that digital downloads simply cannot capture.

Vinyl flaunts the album artwork magnificently on its large 12” canvas, plays the music in its intended order, from the start of the album to its end, and produces the warm and wholly unique sound which record collectors crave.

One NUA student said: “It allows me to experience a time and sound of music I would not have otherwise experienced.

“I love to hold my music, each time I play it it has a different meaning.”

She described vinyl’s unique sound as “pure and raw”.

In addition, recent deaths of music legends like David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister could also be factors in vinyl’s resurgence.

When we are confronted with death or misery we often look to the past to find solace.

Vinyl gives people the opportunity to step back into a time to when Ziggy Stardust dominated public thought, instead of today’s narrative of demagogues and war-mongering demons.

• What are your views on vinyl’s comeback? Do you collect it or see it as another useless fad? Leave your comments below.

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