Vinyl record sales in 2014 were the highest they’ve been since 1993, according to a survey by Digital Music News and The Wall Street Journal, mirroring the rise in digital music sales around the world (the only exception being in the United States).
Neilsen SoundScan data report that 9.2 million vinyl albums were sold worldwide. While that accounts for only 6 percent of overall music sales, it still represents growth of 52 percent from the year before.
Everyone who grew up listening to vinyl records knows the vinyl experience. They scratch and warp easily and almost never sound perfect once taken out of their package. So why are people across wide demographic age groups coming back to vinyl, two decades after its heyday?
Millennials are driving this trend. One of the Trends Research Institute’s top trends for 2015, Retrograde 2.0, addresses how this age demographic will continue to seek, find and retrofit pieces of the past to their needs and interests.
Vinyl’s comeback is part of the larger Retrograde 2.0 trend. In our 2015 forecast, we wrote: “Millennials, oversaturated by technology and multimedia, are not naturally prone to look back for inspiration or comfort. For younger generations, distribution and expediency of information trump quality in the modern world… But, conditioned as they are to modern-day sameness, this group will respond to beauty, authenticity and uniqueness when exposed to it. In music, in art, in fashion, in entertainment… we see examples where today’s youth retrofit qualities of generations past for their present and their future.”
After years of technological breakthroughs, millennials are discovering there is more to life than their ever-present digital devices.
They’re embracing a love for old-school values like creativity, individuality and nostalgia. They’re listening to early jazz and blues music, building musical instruments, bottling herbs and making bitters. Records represent to them a period when music was music, not digitally fabricated and altered beats and voices.
Until this generation comes up with its own Billie Holiday, expect this trend to continue.