For lovers of vinyl, Sony Music Entertainment’s announcement that it will begin pressing vinyl records after almost 30 years is sweet sounding. The Japanese company’s decision is due to a resurgence of popularity for vinyl in the last few years from older consumers as well from younger fans. Although CDs and digital formats still account for the vast majority of music sales, it is expected that vinyl will post double-digit growth this year, as it has for the past seven years. Estimates have vinyl sales making up more than 18% of all music revenue in 2017. Most record production in Europe is handled by only two factories according to The Guardian; one located in The Netherlands and another in the Czech Republic. However their combined capacity is not enough to keep up with demand.
All the good news of double-digit growth and a rosy outlook for sales does come with some challenges. A factory in Japan will begin production of vinyl next March, however, Sony reports having difficulty finding qualified engineers, with experience in records. As reported in an article on CNN Money, former engineers are being pressed into action to mentor employees unfamiliar with vinyl production. The vinyl popularity also prompted Sony and Panasonic to release turntables last year.
As of yet, Sony hasn’t announced what artists or music genre it will release in vinyl format but has suggested that it could include chart-topping titles. Sony’s labels include Columbia, RCA, and Epic representing artists such as AC/DC, Journey, Roger Waters, and Foo Fighters.
Sony stopped vinyl production in 1989 amid the popularity of CDs, a technology that Sony was at the forefront of developing. As sales of CDs and digital downloads continue to decline, estimates are that revenue from vinyl will be in excess of $1 billion worldwide this year. In markets such as Britain, vinyl sales have been particularly strong and generate more revenue than some streaming platforms in 2016.
With files from CNN and The Guardian