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Vinyl: alive and kicking

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Vinyl: alive and kicking

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Vinyl, whose demise was predicted with the advent of CDs two decades ago, is far from gone.

Though they remain a niche market dwarfed by CD sales, vinyl records are still being produced in large numbers.

Bob Bailey is a consultant at one of the UK’s last surviving record manufacturer, the Vinyl Factory:

“Twenty years ago I was told: ‘Go and find another job because vinyl is going to die now that CDs are here.’ I’m still employed manufacturing vinyl. We have a tentative plan to continue manufacturing at least 15 years and it is likely, in my opinion, to go on years and years after that.”

Thanks to a wave of indie rock banks like the UK’s Arctic Monkeys or The Killers from the US, a new generation of fans are helping to drive the revival.

“They kind of made vinyl cool again, I think the record companies felt it might be a good idea to maybe release some of their singles in vinyl form. It was really a form of promotion but the fans picked up on that, the bands loved it because it’s a bit of a badge of honour to release on vinyl, it’s part of the whole mythology around rock n’ roll really,” says Gennaro Castaldo, director of Communications at the British Phonographic Industry, the British record industry’s trade association.

Stars like Elton John or David Bowie still produce on vinyl. LPs now account for 0.8% of albums sold in the UK. Six years ago, that figure was just 0.1%.

“In the last two years, we’ve seen the sales on vinyl double. That’s probably down to the nice, nostalgic, vintage feel of it. Things like the old school hip-hop and soul, people are really interested in getting that warm sound again, so yeah, it’s really good,” says Dave O’Donnell, manager at HMV Oxford Circus.

So far, 2013 is the UK’s best year for vinyl in decades. Sales have already doubled this year to 550,000, and could exceed 700,000 by Christmas.

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