CDs are out for good and vinyl is back in. Ahead of a new album, Metallica are just the latest to jump on the revived trend.
Vinyl sales have now completely eclipsed that of CD sales in the US, and legendary metal band Metallica want a piece of the action.
The US rockers have purchased Furnace Record Pressing, a Virginia-based company that’s worked with the band for 15 years. Metallica bought the vinyl pressing plant to keep up with demand for their discography and in anticipation of the release of their new album '72 Seasons' next month.
'72 Seasons' is Metallica’s first album in seven years, but demand from fans for the band’s previous ten albums in vinyl is considerable. Alongside contemporary artists like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Billie EIlish, interest in vinyl continues to grow.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) confirmed that for the first time since 1987, in 2022 physical sales of records (41 million) have surpassed that of CDs (33 million), making vinyl the most in demand physical medium for music sales.
The sale of physical music supports remains a niche. According to the RIAA, listening on paid or ad-supported platforms has increased by 7% to reach a record turnover of $13.3 billion in 2022, or 84% of the total turnover of the music industry in the United States.
The renaissance of vinyl has been long-discussed. While the vast majority of music consumed is now through streaming platforms, the appeal of a high-fidelity format that you can engage with as a physical experience, has increasing appeal in the face of increasing digitisation.
For some fans, vinyls function as fan objects that don’t even require owning a turntable to make the most of.
“It's the equivalent of an artist poster, or even an album poster on your wall,” the 20-year-old Vijay Damerla tells AFP, “except it's actually a bit of a relic from the past.”
If you do have a turntable, there can be something akin to religious tradition in the way listening to vinyl requires an appreciation of 'antiquated' customs. From dusting the discs to the half-time flip, listening to a record demands a level of dedication that is lost on streaming platforms.
In our ever more fast-paced digital lifestyles, slowing down and putting on a record is an increasingly desired reprieve.