Sony Music recently announced it will begin to make vinyl records again in Japan for the first time in three decades, following up the release of a new turntable last year.
As someone who has collected vinyl record albums for nearly five decades, I find the move interesting. I was a little surprised to learn that the market is returning to vinyl in a big way. The Guardian recently reported that sales of vinyl in the U.K. suddenly exceeded sales of digital downloads. Vinyl sales have shown eight consecutive years of growth. These numbers explain, then, Sony's interest in investing in the future (!) of vinyl.
Experts commenting on the trend point to a desire by consumers to be able to purchase something physical to own. Music lovers are drawn by the cover art, lyrics, and liner notes which "give them a more tangible sense of connection to the music they love."
Cover art often drew me to new music. As a teenager I discovered Wishbone Ash by purchasing There's The Rub when it came out because I thought the cover was quirky and cool. The music was solid, and I went back for more. When I spotted Argus, that was it. Now there's a cool cover.
Long-play albums often offer other attractions. I recently picked up John Prine's first album, pictured above, for a buck at a community yard sale in Kemptville. On the back cover Prine had inscribed it in ballpoint pen to "Ric and Bonnie from a Grateful Guest 20/8/74." He drew a peace flower and signed it. Now who wouldn't like to have something like that in their collection?
The best part of the whole thing, though, is the fact that Sony Music is reaching out for expertise to achieve the best possible sound for their new pressings. What does that mean? "Cutting is a delicate process, with the quality of sound affected by the depth and angle of the grooves ... and Sony is scrambling to bring in old record engineers to pass on their knowledge."
There must be a feeling of quiet triumph in the minds of the old guys who suddenly find themselves wanted again. Their sound engineering skills are once again a valuable commodity. Who woulda thunk it?
Rock on, Old Dudes! Show the people how it's done!!
It's enough to blow your mind, man.