BRAUN: Vinyl returns, to the tune of $1 billion

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There are many reasons why vinyl albums have become popular again, but here are the basics: the look, the feel, the sound.

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The big plastic plates began to disappear in the late 1970s, a slow slide as tapes and CDs, MP3s and iPods, and finally streaming (all that portability, without the care or storage ) made vinyl obsolete.

(And it made it possible to sell the same album to the same person four or five times in different formats, but that’s another column.)

There were always people who kept their vinyl and still bought it from vintage stores, but most of them switched to the iPhone.

Then came the slow climb back up.

This month everyone from Airbag to ZZ Top got vinyl releases coming outmany on colored vinyl.

In 2020, album sales surpassed CD sales for the first time, and for the past year, vinyl sales topped $1 billion. for the first time in 35 years.

Streaming still dominates, but the demand for vinyl is so great that most pressing plants in North America I can’t keep up

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Here at home, Precision Records in Burlington has been enjoying the vinyl boom since 2017.

According to Senior Vice President Ernie Addezi, vinyl began a steady comeback in 2005 and really took off around 2015. (The birth of Record Store Day in 2008 didn’t hurt.)

Vinyl’s popularity got a big boost during the pandemic, when listening to music changed from wallpaper to activity.

“The general public needed to feel a sense of autonomy during times when we were in lockdown with nowhere to go,” Addezi said in a recent interview.

“Since then, vinyl record sales in the US have increased by roughly 10% to 12% year over year. The first big jump came in 2020, which saw an increase in sales of around 65% from the previous year.

“In 2021, we again saw an increase of about 65% from the previous year.”

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Precision began in 2016 as a partnership between Czech vinyl manufacturer GZ Media, a world leader in record pressing, and Isotope Music, Canada’s leading music distributor.

GZ Media hired a Czech company to make the first new presses in decadesso Precision has always had state-of-the-art equipment and can carefully control everything – cutting, plating, pressing, printing and packaging – related to your product.

Addezi said that during their first month of operation they produced 15,000 LPs.

“Since then, we have added 25 fully automated presses, which has increased our monthly production to approximately 1.6 million.”

Precision also has two sister plants in Tennessee under the GZ North America umbrella: Memphis Record Pressing and the newly opened Nashville Record Pressing.

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Baby Boomers have always loved vinyl, and now it seems Millennials do too. They are the two biggest consumers of vinyl, Addezi said.

“The older generation are the main buyers of vinyl. The second group, which is much larger, are younger people, generally between 25 and 38 years old, who have adopted this ‘new’ medium and art form”.

Part of the appeal for all age groups, he added, “is handling a physical product. To read the liner notes, look at the pictures, flip the LP over to hear the other side.”

Canadian author and arts journalist Nick Jennings noted that listeners can stream music with the push of a button, “but pulling a vinyl album out of your collection and lowering the needle into the grooves seems like the most intentional and tactile choice.

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“You can see and hold what you’re playing, look at the album art, and read the credits and liner notes. Not to mention the warmer, richer sound of vinyl played on a good system.”

A younger vinyl audience, he added, “may be drawn to vinyl for the novelty factor, but I think they’re more likely to love acquiring a substantial souvenir while supporting their favorite artist at the same time.”

That “substantial memory” becomes a theme in itself for the serious vinyl collector.

Kim Gertler, an award-winning Toronto filmmaker, writer, and music documentarian (and professional sommelier) purchased a building in the Junction area of ​​Toronto to house her collection.

The approximately 10,000 records include a subset of the rare 45 from Jamaica; Gertler is an expert on reggae and Jamaican music.

“ME I continue to actively and passionately pursue my love of music through vinyl. My current obsession is Jamaican blank-tagged seven-inch 45s,” she said.

“I’m allergic to Spotify.”

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