Remember cassettes? Boy howdy did those things suck! The tape would always get tangled and it would eventually slow down and wear out completely. It wasn’t much of an upgrade from the old, reliable vinyl LP if you ask me. There were a lot of things the ’80s got wrong; upgrading from vinyl to cassette was one of them. The physical, warm and personal connection to music that vinyl provided was lost with the cassette, and then destroyed at the turn of the new century with the digitalisation of music.
But there is good news on the horizon my friends; cassettes are starting to make a come back. The personal connection and tangibility that came with old physical releases are once again becoming the hip new way to buy music.
The popularity of the cassette, and the new hipster demographic means the LP is making a cultural comeback, in a big way. That’s right folks, the vinyl will keep in spinning.
Unlike it’s counterpart, the CD, vinyl is enduring the digital revolution. It’s no secret the LP is cool again. According to the latest ARIA statistics, the number of vinyl records sold in Australia last year was 65, 000 – rising from 18, 000 in 2009 (and those figures do not include unsigned bands, small independent record labels, or sales made at local record fairs). In comparison to 30 million CDs sold – down from 50 million in 2009.
In America vinyl sales rose from 990, 000 records in 2007 to over 4.5 million in 2012 – a 350% increase in 5 years (figures according to Nielsen Soundscan). Check out this recent story from Fox News detailing the vinyl resurgence in the US.
The popularity of vinyl (regardless whether they are being played or not) in the modern industry and new demographic means record companies can charge $30 or $40 a pop on a new vinyl, and people will pay – for now anyway. For the seasoned collector, and the new vinyl fans wanting to avoid high prices, long lines and hipster cliental, local record fairs are a great way to add some wax to your collection. Record fairs are held regularly in most major cities and communities. In Brisbane there is at least one a month, usually held by 4zzz or ButterBeats. So being the vinyl enthusiast I am, I went to the Winn Lane Record Fair in Brisbane this month to see what I could find, armed with $20 and an optimistic attitude of finding the next gem for my collection at a great price…
At the fair I met The Vinyl Junkie (or Matthew Bowden), a vinyl dealer that travels the world in search of vinyl to buy, sell and trade at record fairs across Australia. I asked him how many records he takes on the record fair circuit. “I have around 35, 000 LPs and singles at the moment, from a variety of genres,” he said. “I just took my third trip to the US and got a heap of media promos and singles, a lot of rare 7″ and 10″ records, and even a few cassettes. Stuff you wont be able to download or find at the HMV.”
Brisbane record fairs will often attract a pretty good crowd, so I’m told by Bowden. “The crowds aren’t as big as Sydney or Melbourne, but they get bigger each fair. Winn Lane has a cool vibe. Punters can buy milkshake at Flamingo, buy some records and socialise. I’m excited to see the kind of turn out that comes to the next one.”
After our chat, I made Matthew an offer on a discarded pile of records and he gracefully accepted. Check out the new additions to my collection:
All three of these cost me $15. Boy howdy! That’s a steal considering what they cost to download! For under $20, I managed to buy a milkshake, three records, met a bunch of new people and listened to music for a good hour or two. Sounds cool, huh? Cool enough to get you arse along to the next one? C’mon, jump on the vinyl bandwagon now before it really explodes.