With Record Store Day this Saturday 20th April, research released by ICM today reveals that 18-24 year olds are driving the resurgence in sales of vinyl format music.
This resurgence of vinyl is almost entirely enabled by Britain’s independent record stores that are currently enjoying a period of measured growth after having declined in numbers from 2,200 in the 1980s to just under 300 today.
In the last month, 5% of the respondents had bought music in vinyl format. The most surprising finding from the research was that sales of new and vintage vinyl are biggest amongst 18-24 year olds (14% had bought vinyl in the last month compared to 9% of 25-34 year olds and 5% of 35-44 year olds), not what you might expect from the generation that has grown up with the CD, iTunes and online downloads.
The reason for this ‘vinyl demand’ is explained by some of those interviewed by ICM:
“I love the way vinyl sounds so raw. Other formats sound like an annoying frequency if listened to repeatedly, whereas I feel vinyl has a much fuller organic sound. Also I think the sleeve and artwork on some records are just amazing and nice to have as a collection.”
“Sound quality, especially on bigger systems, and the tactility of a piece of vinyl. Nothing comes close to the feel of vinyl when mixing - it’s more akin to an actual instrument in my opinion.”
The majority of vinyl buyers are purchasing second hand, and although there are specialist websites meeting this demand, 8 out of 10 (85%) record buyers prefer to buy their vinyl or special edition music in their local independent record store. In fact the research suggests that having an independent record store nearby actually influences how people buy their music. 86% of vinyl buyers have an independent store near where they live.
“I like the excitement of going to a store and roaming through all sorts of weird and wonderful records I’ve never seen…I only really buy online if there is something specific I’m looking for and can’t find in shops”
“For new/repackaged vinyl I would try to avoid using high street shops such as HMV, I prefer to find an independent store first.”
But it’s not just vinyl fans who prefer to shop in their neighbourhood independent record store – almost a third (32%) of all respondents chose it as their preference, and almost half (47%) of 18-24 year olds. 10% visit their local record store on a monthly basis, with the majority (78%) spending up to £15 per visit.
Those who are engaged in music generally are more likely to buy in a range of formats. Of vinyl buyers, 52% also bought CDs, 31% got MP3 downloads, and 36% bought luxury editions or box sets and, perhaps most surprisingly, 19% of vinyl buyers bought cassettes in the last month.
27% of vinyl buyers don’t play the records they own, and although some are planning to buy a turntable, others say they buy the vinyl to admire and own, and the CD version to listen to the music. As two of the respondents explained:
“It allows me to display the cover in my frame and leave the CD in the rack to play.”
“You can own what is essentially a piece of art in a size where artwork can be appreciated (unlike most CD covers).”