Vinyl once more

would have thought that the vinyl record would make a comeback in this digital
age? But it has, surprisingly.  In 2016,
in a massive reversal of fortune, record sales in the United Kingdom surpassed that
of digital downloads.

30 years after ditching the vinyl record, Japanese conglomerate Sony announced in
mid-2017 that its Japanese arm would start manufacturing records once again to
meet the growing demand. If things go as planned, the company’s unit in Tokyo
will start producing them as early as this year.

the adage ‘Old is gold’ proving itself once again? The resurrection of the old style
record in the West can be attributed to more stores selling them. What about the
Indian market? Even though the scenario is more subdued, things are moving here

sales were always there, but the vibrations were absent,” says Prem Kumar Gupta
of Symphony Kolkata. “After all these years we feel the excitement again.”  The shop sells around 90 vinyl records a month
since 2017.

music started sounding flat, and that’s why people have gone back to records.
It has a different feel,” he adds. Md. Ilyas, proprietor of M/s Gramophonic,  a 
specialist  in  dealing 
with records on Lenin Sarani in central Kolkata,  however, 
has  a  different 
take. “Records have always enticed customers, but it never reached the
heights it was supposed to,” he rues.

market is wretched, he feels, adding, “How many shops sell records today?  It used to be 500 at one time. Today, maybe
there are five recognized shops in the entire city of Kolkata.”

Iqbal, a fellow record seller, has been in the business for over five decades.
He started with vinyls, moved to cassettes and later sold CDs.

on the future of people like him vis-à-vis
the music industry, he is pretty upbeat. “Say
whatever you want to, but the record market has a life of its own.”

The sound quality

Ghosh, a Delhi-based music restorer, says that the basic sound quality of vinyl
is unmatchable. “The depth of sound of a vinyl record can beat the likes of a
cassette or a CD player any day.”

to that the longevity of a record, one has the perfect combination. The only
thing that comes close to records in terms of longevity is a cassette. While a
cassette with proper handling can last nearly 40 years, a vinyl record on an average
lasts about 60 years, if not more.

Teenage connection

are the most impulsive among the age groups. With little or moderate experience,
teenagers are more susceptible to falling for a particular trend. For vinyl, it
has done wonders.

teenagers frequent my shop these days,” admits Ilyas. “Maybe it has something
to do with the money too,” he says, referring 
to  the  low 
cost  of second-hand  vinyl.

Records: One for the future?

vinyl sales in the West have not dropped since 2006 and culminated as the
biggest winner a decade later, the growth is India has not been that noteworthy.
However, better returns in 2017 have prompted experts to think positively.

we have the largest catalogue selection for vinyl in India,” says Jojie Mammen,
vice president and business head, Sony DADC, India.

the coming days we will see even new releases on vinyl paving way  to 
introduce larger vinyl selection of Indian repertoire  with 
vinyl-shopping  going mainstream.”

of  late, 
there has  been  a lot 
of  interest  from 
independent  artistes  to  launch  albums 
on  vinyl  format, 
he  notices.

factor which hinders the growth is the cost of a turntable.

have always been a rich man’s game in India. 
It was never for the middle class,” says Rantideb Maitra, a connoisseur
of music and a scholar. He explains that a top range turntable costs around
Rs.  25,000 and above, while a starter
level device was no cheaper than Rs. 
7,000. That’s how costly it was,” he says, laughing.

Digital download and streaming

It  is 
somewhat  like  a  rare  case 
of the  predecessor  taking 
on  a  successor. 
In  fields  like 
sports  and  politics, perhaps  it’s 
seen  but  not 
in  case  of technology. Yet, the unthinkable has happened.  Digital 
streaming  and downloading  have 
been  humbled  by record sales in 2016, inviting ominous comments  from 
experts,  who  have opined that the former medium is inching  toward 
the  end. Does it mean a farewell to
the YouTube, if at all?

like Ghosh ‘very rarely’ tune into YouTube to listen to songs, preferring quality
over other metrics. However, Maitra opines that YouTube must remain in order
for certain records to stay ‘alive.’

Still a second-hand sales market

Indian vinyl market is still driven by second-hand sales. As a result, it is directly
dependent on supply of old records. How do the sellers obtain the records?

get them from people who are willing to sell their collection. Maybe it belonged
to their grandfather or someone in the family and now these antiques are taking
up more space than usual and so the seller wants to get rid of them. So they
contact us,” informs Gupta.

Promising a change in the scenario, Mammen adds, “Vinyl is an important part of our business and has been gaining momentum in the last one year. The  vinyl  selection  available  in  India was  limited  to  a  few  international  titles  for  quite  some  time,  but  Sony DADC  has  pioneered  the  effort  in making  available  a  large  range  of  International  selections with  Indian  e-commerce portals. At the same time, it has released a wide selection of Hindi  films  in vinyl  too.”

Vinyl once more Vinyl once more Reviewed by feedvalley on April 03, 2019 Rating: 5

1 comment:

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