Music fans get in an old-fashioned spin

By Paul Bignell

Younger listeners are also getting into vinyl, helping drive sales up. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Younger listeners are also getting into vinyl, helping drive sales up. Photo / Paul Estcourt

It was the soundtrack for a more innocent time: buying an LP and dropping it on the record player at home. Then the album lost its romance as life got more complicated, with the advent of cassettes, CDs and the MP3.

But now people are hankering for that romance again. British sales of vinyl LPs are at their highest for more than half a decade, with the total number of vinyl albums sold this year exceeding last year's total.

Statistics compiled by the Official Charts Company reveal that vinyl sales are up by 40 per cent, year on year, with nearly a quarter of a million purchases since January alone.

Artists such as Adele, Liam Gallagher's new band Beady Eye, Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys have all helped to drive up sales of a format many thought would be stamped out by CDs and MP3s.

A new generation of consumers, as well as artists such as 21-year-old US country singer Taylor Swift, have spoken of their fondness for the format.

"Vinyl is really important to me, because I'm so in love with the concept of an album ... a collection of memories from your life that you're giving to people,"said Swift.

While records are still a relatively niche product, industry experts believe a dual market is opening up, with the dominant genres of hip-hop and R&B being downloaded, while a broader spread of artists are releasing their music on vinyl as well as CDs.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "We found there was a big pick-up in sales from younger consumers, many of whom didn't even have a record player, but thought they were cool. The fans want to associate with it, almost as a badge of honour. As a band it's a proper thing to do: it connects with the 'soul' of music."

Ian McCann, editor of Record Collector, the industry bible for second-hand record consumers, said: "I have had emails from young people asking me if there is somewhere they can play their parents' cast-off rock albums, dragged out of the loft. They didn't seem aware that you can still buy record players."

High street chains are joining the craze too. John Lewis is, for the first time, stocking vinyl albums this Christmas. The appetite for vinyl has also spread to the big screen: the documentary Sound It Out, about the last record shop in England's northeast, has opened in Britain.

- INDEPENDENT

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