The True Story of How Vinyl Spun Its Way Back From Near-Extinction

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A person searches through a collection of vinyl records. Gary Burchell/Getty Images

Ever see a movie where the protagonist wasn’t born, or the USSR won the Cold War, and the alternate future is different from the present day? Think back to Doc Brown using a chalkboard to draw tangential, alternate futures for Marty McFly inBack to the Future. Well, imagine if vinyl records were a hard-to-find niche product, and pressing plants were operating with capacity to spare.

It could have happened.

Anticipating a change and in search of new physical and hybrid offerings, record labels developed and tested a series of products between 2006 and 2008: MVI (Musical Video Interactive, a DVD filled with audio, video and interactive content), connected CDs, digital album cards (branded, physical cards with a download code), music placed on storage devices for your flip phone and a few others.

NPD Group surveyed consumers on behalf of Music Business Association (Music Biz), then called the National Association of Record Merchants (NARM). To its credit, the industry publicized the results of these tests through NARM. Although no product achieved the purchase interest of the CD, a few looked promising, especially for committed buyers.

One product tested less well: vinyl.

Vinyl concepts were tested in 2006 next to early versions of connected CDs and CD/DVD hybrids. This version of vinyl included a digital download card that would allow the buyer to download the album’s digital tracks. Of all the products tested between 2006 and 2008, vinyl tested the worst. There were ample problems. Vinyl had the lowest purchase interest. It didn’t particularly appeal to any important fan segments. And it wasn’t seen as a valuable item. More people expected to pay less for vinyl than were willing to pay a premium.

Only 5 percent of respondents said vinyl was their favorite of the ideas tested. The idea of a premium product for a broader audience was dead in the water.

What happened to make vinyl the fastest-growing format, albeit still not the mainstream product CDs once were? Record Store Day.

You can read the rest of this article by Ben Peoples and Russ Crupnick courtesy of Billboard here

Here at eil.com we are proud to be part of the resurgence in vinyl, be sure to check our incredible range of LPs, which includes many superb albums priced below £10 right up to premium collectables – click here for full details

 

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