Records come round again: Sony to open vinyl factory in Japan

From the Guardian

Major label’s Japanese arm to build new vinyl-pressing plant to keep up with growing demand for reissues and new releases on retro format

A Tokyo record store manager shows off a period Japanese pressing of The Beatles’ final studio album Let It Be. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

It has been dismissed as the niche domain of hipsters who don’t even have turntables and nostalgic dads buying countless reissues of Dark Side Of the Moon. But the resurrection of vinyl has been given major label backing, with the announcement by Sony Music that it will restart the manufacture of its own records.

The Japanese arm of Sony Music announced it would open its own record-pressing plant in March next year to cope with the huge demand for vinyl in the country.

Sony Music Japan shut down its in-house vinyl pressing production in 1989 after the advent of CDs, which entered the market in 1982 and were dominantfor the next two decades.

However, in a trend mirrored worldwide, vinyl sales in Japan have rocketed over the past four years and the country’s sole vinyl-pressing factory is unable to cope with demand, prompting Sony to step in.

It is a similar story in Europe, where most vinyl for major and independent labels is pressed by just two plants, GZ media based in the Czech Republic, and Record Industry in the Netherlands. However, their combined capacity of more than 100,000 records per day is not enough to keep up with global appetite.

“It’s actually too good,” said Record Industry’s owner, Ton Vermeulen, last year. “Demand is sky-high and we’re having to turn people away, which I don’t like doing.”

The boom in vinyl sales is attributed to two factors: older generations who have long been attached to the format, and also a younger audience used to digital forms of music who want to own a physical format; with CDs in decline, vinyl has become a popular alternative.

“A lot of young people buy songs that they hear and love on streaming services,” said Michinori Mizuno, chief executive of Sony Music Japan.

Factory worker Aga Dolega-Lawry places a master record into a pressing machine to make copies of Definitely Maybe by Oasis at The Vinyl Factory in Hayes, UK. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

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