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A few months ago i created a survey online with questions concerning the future of vinyl. The survey was posted on different music message boards (discogs.com, kraakpiep.nl, hydrogenaudio.org, aboutdj.nl). Network sites (Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter) and P2P network Soulseek.

464 people took the survey and when checking the outcome, it said that of the 464 people 70% is still buying vinyl, 25% cd and only 5% mp3. I’m not sure this is because vinyl sales are on the rise or because the places where I posted the survey are pro vinyl. I did post on message boards wich focus mainly on digital audio but the survey got removed. On aboutdj.nl it lasted less than a day and I got banned… Is this because people who are into digital music loathe vinyl and see it as a relic of the past? Some answers in the survey of people who buy digital would say so. Someone answered: Vinyl sounds terrible. The ticks, pops, clicks, skips and hisses along with the horrid sound of the needle hitting record are obnoxious to me.

I will highlight some of these subjects and outcome of the survey:

– Pros of buying cd or mp3 over vinyl
– Reasons people still buy vinyl
– Where people buy their records & how often
– thoughts about the future of vinyl
– Future of the record shop

Pros of buying cd or mp3 over vinyl according to answers in the survey are mainly: Faster easier and cheaper to buy, no storage needed, cheaper with shipping (cd), not heavy to carry, more releases available, releases are easier available, durability, can be duplicated without loss and some said that the sound quality is better.

Some statements quoted from the survey question: Why do you prefer buying Mp3 over Cd?

Many releases only have one or two good tracks so I d rather buy those tracks at £1.29 each than spend £8 on the vinyl. We didn’t t have this luxury ten years ago so you’d buy a twelve and only ever play that one track,

Vinyl sucks as a medium due to physical tracking errors heard as noise, ticks, pops, distortion etc. Practically none of which is present in digital reproduction.

Reasons people still buy vinyl: A more hands-on tactile experience when djing, originality, the whole ritual of playing a record, artwork/complete package, something to hold/feeling, collectable, buying/searching experience, the Storage is much more Safer and the Risk of Data-Lost is near Zero, as a dj you can’t fake with vinyl, nostalgic,
The pride of ownership, availability, some music only works on vinyl, and most people answered better sound.

Three reasons: 1. the sound 2. The sound 3. THE SOUND

Some quotes from the survey question “why do you buy vinyl instead of mp3 or cd”:

Mp3 is pure data so I see no reason for paying

Mp3 and cds have no soul

Vinyl is a whole package for me. This includes a sleeve with artwork inscriptions etc… It s a full creative product. An mp3 is just air.

I’m a snob hehe

Because I m a pathetic vinyl junkie

I’m a real music lover and these will ALWAYS choose vinyl. Music is something you should smell, feel, see and hear. I see mp3’s as something temporarily…it’s like air. You breathe it in and breathe it out right away. I can still enjoy my records in 50 year, even just by holding the sleeve. If you don’t feel the same then you’re no music lover in my eyes. And yes that sounds harsh.

I used to buy weekly before the economy collapsed. Now I use that money to buy Silver/Gold coins instead.

I asked where people buy their records and as you can see in the pie chart most answered they buy in real record shops & online shops (I also count discogs and eBay to online shops). Most of the people who answered only online state this is mainly because they live in an area where there are no record shops or shops don’t stock the music which they’re looking for and because it’s easy to get the records delivered at home. The people who answered record shops mainly answered this because they don’t trust the postal service, don’t trust the grading of sellers and enjoy the experience of searching/finding records and being able to listen and see the record before purchasing.

(click on the image to enlarge)

The most fun is finding something all by myself in an opp shop or store. Any twat can find stuff on the internet. The real challenge is in the real word.

How often do you buy vinyl ?

(click on the image to enlarge)

The future ?

Most people believe there is no future for vinyl in dj culture since turntables are disappearing from the clubs (and if there are turntables they’re not being taken care of). Clubs mainly have cdjs now, or people just perform on their laptops. Another reason is that it’s much cheaper for a digital dj to play dubplates (no expensive acetate dubplates). There are dance music scenes where there are still many releases on vinyl.

But luckily there are some positive visions of the future too: At the moment a lot of new releases (also mainstream releases) are also released on vinyl. A lot of major labels are reissuing their classic albums on LP (most of the time on higher quality 180 grams vinyl).Vinyl will replace cd as a physical format is stated by someone in the survey.
Big group of people answered that vinyl has a future but for a niche market, mainly for collectors it survived (and outlived many other formats) for so long so it will probably continue doing that.
Labels release the records in smaller quantities than before but at least it still happens. Also more and more young people are buying vinyl but some people say that this is just a phase/fad.
A lot of people are convinced that the collector & vinyl enthusiast will stay existing.

Some quotes from people who answered that vinyl has a future:

If companies invest in something special (keep it worth buying) like nice artwork. And keep the sound quality good (no shitty pressings!)

There is a future for vinyl because it adds this emotional kind of thing to music that people are looking for. It might be though that some future inventions/innovations are adding such an incredible extra experience to listening to music that it overpowers this emotional thing. In that case vinyl might slowly disappear. (50 years or so).

There is a future but with smaller pressings max 1000 copies worldwide. Or deluxe boxes there will be always be fans that will complete the whole discography of an artist.

Vinyl is like a book compared to a pdf!

Yes. plain and simple. I didn’t t grow up with vinyl and fell in love with it only recently. I feel there is a bigger push for the youth to buy vinyl now. It s like a phase. I think people are getting sick of hearing music that is excessively compressed; it s not the way music is meant to be heard.

As a 24 year old who has over 10 friends who also collect vinyl… I def. says it has a future.

The major question is how long this current fad will continue. Sales of LPs are rising and it s now expected for musicians to release their albums on LP (the smarter ones will continue to record in analog for LP). However pressing plants have not built new equipment since the dawn of CD. The machinery is 25-30 years old and that s going to become a greater concern as repairs and maintenance become more and more expensive. Will demand for records increase to the point where new pressing equipment is built? Will a long-term commitment be made by the music industry? Or will the vinyl revival fade? Will the analog LP finally fade when the baby boom generation dies? Another concern is the hi-fi audio market. Manufacturers of audio gear continue to skew the wealthy upscale market aging boomers who think nothing of spending $2 000 on turntables and carts. What does that leave the young college student who s curious to discover LPs? The used market remains a fertile ground and smart buyers can score excellent vintage tables for $100. On the down side you are buying a 30-year-old turntable – the fact that these machines still perform is a miracle of engineering. But you are going to deal with aches and pains. Today s modern turntables are horribly overpriced and there s no excuse. Unlike digital music analog LPs depend greatly on the proper equipment to unveil their brilliant sound. A cheap plastic USB turntable will sound like junk. A vintage turntable like my Sony PS-X5 (1977-79) will smash it to pieces. If you want a comparable sound from new hi-fi you’ll have to spend $700 for the Technics SL-1200 mkII or $900 for the Rega P3-24. Since most audio equipment is imported from abroad the US market is vulnerable to price and currency fluctuations. Prices across the board have shot up in the past two years. This will be the major challenge to vinyl LP s long-term survival. The industry must nurture the younger generation and respect the hi-fi audio realm. This is the challenge before the music business.

Vinyl will still be around when we progress further and further into the digital realm. I imagine vinyl sound emulators will appear as a preset plug-in in any DAW. Serato (and other such MP3/vinyl crossover platforms) will IMHO replace traditional vinyl more and more until vinyl returns to it s rightful place in the history books. This is because tactile nature of DJ with the disc on the record platter and the mostly free MP3s on the internet are too greater appeal for anyone who is cheap or lazy to buy new records or even perhaps mostly DJs obscure music not released on traditional vinyl. I also envisage artists releasing the Serato data discs with the artists sticker labels on them and files (FLAC probably) to go with them.

Some people who buy digital answered that there will be no future for vinyl since its analog…and another reason is that they think that the ingredients for the production of vinyl will become unavailable.

Some quotes from people who think the production of vinyl will be over soon:

Nope because the love for vinyl is based on nostalgia

Not much. Only as a collector s/vogue/I-am-so-much-better-than-you item. Not for music lovers who love music

Probably not. I am an older person and I think that in years to come vinyl will be the same as 78 s were when I was younger. Operating in a niche market second hand only. Production will probably cease within 5 years.

No. It s a fad started by writer Michael Fremer and three online vinyl dealers( Acoustic Sounds Music Direct & Elusive Disc )

No. It is illogical to listen to vinyl once there are plenty of better options for example: CD

No; they deteriorate they take oodles of space to store and they finish playing after a maximum of <1h whereas on most multimedia servers (or pcs or whatever) you can search more quickly create longer playlists etc.

Most answers are positive. The big record shops slowly disappear but smaller specialized shops will survive some said that you will get shops that specialize even more on one style/artist but on the other hand people answered that shops need to diversify in order to survive. Cause of the lack of social contact and service online people keep going to shops. For shops it’s harder to stock cause the information about new releases are easier accessible than in the past and a lot of releases are only for sale online or only digital wich also makes it harder from shops to keep their stock up to date.

Some quotes:

They still do in NYC! Virgin Megastore folded Tower is gone but all the little Record Shops are still open and going strong.

The Indies now have figured out how to remain viable or thrive … so yes. A lot of places have been weeded out but the remaining ones I bet will stick around.

I hope so!!! To be in a place literally surrounded by music CD/vinyl/whatever is a special feeling no online store can duplicate. Plus you are with other human beings who love music too also a great feeling. I think a *few* stores will continue to exist because I am hearing about more & more young people who want to support their favorite musicians – instead of downloading free music from the internet – and want to share that feeling I spoke about above.

Some quotes from people who see there is no future for the record shop:

No. Digital downloading & on line purchasing will probably kill record shops.

No. limited stock

No. Everything will be available online.

No. Because buying records online is much cheaper than in a real existing record shop.

This way i want to thank everyone who took the survey, the discusions on the messageboards and your kind words, Thanks!! – Tommy

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