Vinyl Sound on Rebound

Some things never change.

It seems that for the past few years, vinyl has seen a rebound of sorts, especially with the younger generation discovering the wonderful medium of the record. This trend seems to only be speeding up instead of stopping anytime soon, as a recent nytimes article will attest.

The article: “Vinyl Records and Turntables Are Gaining Sales”

In the article:

“Rachelle Friedman, the co-owner of J&R, said the store is selling more vinyl and turntables than it has in at least a decade, fueled largely by growing demand from members of the iPod generation.

“It’s all these kids that are really ramping up their vinyl collections,” Ms. Friedman said. “New customers are discovering the quality of the sound. They’re discovering liner notes and graphics.” In many instances, the vinyl album of today is thicker and sounds better than those during vinyl’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sales of vinyl albums have been climbing steadily for several years, tromping on the notion that the rebound was just a fad. Through late November, more than 2.1 million vinyl records had been sold in 2009, an increase of more than 35 percent in a year, according to Nielsen Soundscan. That total, though it represents less than 1 percent of all album sales, including CDs and digital downloads, is the highest for vinyl records in any year since Nielsen began tracking them in 1991.”

So vinyl may be surviving more than it is truly thriving (which I don’t think I could ever see happening again), but at least it seems it won’t go the way of the 8-track and disappear altogether. And vinyl is surviving with good reason– you simply cannot beat the sound, especially with record-cutting technology today, nor can you beat the large piece of art with liner notes– night and day compared to the stamp-sized digital piece of art that comes with mp3 downloads, like on itunes. Records are more tangible. From a tactile perspective, you can actually hold them in your hand and appreciate them– especially in the throwaway culture of today. Sonically, the warm sound of analog is unmatched and it seems that more and more people are forgetting what music is meant to sound like. People’s ears are getting dumbed down by over-compressed digital audio files and it is nice to see that people– especially young people are realizing this. It’s a crazy thing to think that some of the children of the current generation of children may also inherit record collections one day. It almost carries a sense of romanticism, as I can recall when I inherited my father’s record collection in vivid detail. My music listening habits were ingrained in stone right there and I can’t help but smile at the thought of a new generation being able to enjoy the same thing.

Vinyl fan or posessed, tormented soul?

So this past week, I decided to see for myself the music purchasing trends of random groups of people at two different record stores that I had not yet visited in the South Jersey area. I visited Tunes in both Marlton and Turnersville, NJ. Tunes offers new and used CDs, cassettes, vinyl, DVDs and video games. I was only concerned with people who were purchasing music. I did this just to get a taste of what music and what format people were shopping for at the time, and on a regular basis. It was difficult to get a considerable amount of people to participate (holiday shopping rush), however the results were compelling. This was done with their consent, although for reasons of anonymity at the request of most of the people I presented with my brief survey, I changed their names while retaining their ages and their respective towns of residence. So without further ado, here are my findings:

Firstly, here is what my little survey looked like:

All in all, 20 different people participated. I capped it at ten surveys per store. Here is what I found at the two Tunes stores:

TUNES IN TURNERSVILLE

  • Steve McGlinchey, 22 of Pine Hill tends to buy rock and alternative CDs once a month. He has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/7/09, he purchased Wilco, Self-titled on CD.
  • Jane Anderson, 43 of Turnersville tends to buy rock and jazz CDs once every few months. She has not purchased a vinyl record in decades. On 12/7/09, she purchased Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart on CD.
  • David Jenkins, 35 of Turnersville tends to buy rock and blues CDs once a month. He has purchased a vinyl record as recently as a year ago. On 12/7/09, he purchased Norah Jones, The Fall on CD.
  • James Morrissey, 16 of Blackwood tends to buy rock and alternative CDs and MP3s once a week. He has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/7/09, he purchased The Dead Weather, Horehound on CD.
  • Stacey Smith, 28 of Turnersville tends to buy rock, rap and alternative CDs and MP3s once a month. She has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/7/09, she purchased Lady Gaga, The Fame on CD.
  • Ben Harrison, 46 of Williamstown tends to buy rock, jazz, alternative and classical CDs and cassettes once a month. He hasn’t bought a vinyl record in years. On 12/7/09, he purchased Bruce Springsteen, Tracks on CD.
  • Bill Harley, 25 of Woodbury tends to buy rock, rap and alternative CDs and MP3s once a month. He has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/7/09, he purchased The Mars Volta, Frances the Mute on CD.
  • Lucy Hayes, 32 of Pine Hill tends to buy rock, jazz and country CDs, MP3s and vinyl records once a month. She has purchased a vinyl record as recently as a month ago. On 12/7/09, she purchased Josh Groban, Noel on CD.
  • Mary Langley, 22 of Mullica Hill tends to buy rock and rap CDs and MP3s once a week. She has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/7/09, she purchased Cage the Elephant, Self-titled on CD.
  • Mike Ross, 52 of Berlin tends to buy rock, jazz, classical and blues CDs once a year. He hasn’t bought a vinyl record in years. On 12/7/09, he purchased Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream on CD.

TUNES IN MARLTON

  • Jennifer Ross, 33 of Chery Hill tends to buy rock CDs once a month. She hasn’t  bought a vinyl record in years. On 12/11/09, she purchased Kings of Leon, Only by the Night on CD.
  • Andrew Newman, 20 of Marlton tends to buy rock, rap and jazz CDs and vinyl records once every few months. He has purchased a vinyl record as recently as a month ago. On 12/11/09, he purchased Yes, Tales of Topographic Oceans on vinyl.
  • Peter Griffin, 46 of Somerdale tends to buy rock and rap CDs once a year. He hasn’t purchased a vinyl record in decades. On 12/11/09, he purchased Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti on CD.
  • Annette Montgomery, 55 of Haddonfield tends to buy rock, jazz, classical and country CDs once a year. She hasn’t bought a vinyl record in decades. On 12/11/09, she purchased Miles Davis, Quiet Nights on CD.
  • Fred Morris, 29 of Lindenwold tends to buy rock, rap, alternative and blues CDs and MP3s once a month. He has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/11/09, he purchased Queens of the Stoneage, Era Vulgaris on CD.
  • Patty Mayonnaise, 45 of Belmawr tends to buy rock, jazz, alternative, classical and blues CDs  once a month. She hasn’t bought a vinyl record in years. On 12/11/09, she purchased Taylor Swift, Fearless on CD.
  • Dave Fox, 33 of Runnemede tends to buy rap CDs and MP3s once a month. He has purchased a vinyl record as recently as a year ago. On 12/11/09, he purchased 50 Cent, Before I Self-Destruct on CD.
  • Andrew Lester, 18 of Marlton tends to buy rock, jazz, classical and blues CDs, MP3s and vinyl records once a month. He has purchased a vinyl record as recently as a month ago. On 12/11/09, he purchased Neil Young, Live Rust on vinyl.
  • Jim Pierce, 23 of Collingswood tends to buy rock and rap CDs once a month. He has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/11/09, he purchased Logos, Atlas Sound on CD.
  • Denise Mulligan, 16 of Ashland tends to buy rock and rap CDs once a month. She has never bought a vinyl record. On 12/11/09, she purchased Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion on CD.

RESULTS

This was obviously not a legitimate scientific study, nor was it done with a large enough cross section of customers over a wide enough geographic area to find any real patterns or trends, however it was great for getting an idea of what demographic seems to be buying what.

It seems that those who are more inclined to buy vinyl are are members of the younger generation (late teens to early twenties) and it is this same demographic that is more inclined to purchase Mp3s as well. Perhaps being a target demographic of Apple’s itunes and other similar services has led to many of them branching off to vinyl in search of better sound, and as I said earlier, music that is more “tangible.” The nytimes article seems to allude to this and I think there is some truth there. One person (Dave Fox) purchases hip-hop on vinyl in order to scratch on his turntable, something which is far from dead in the DJing world.

Members of the older generation (40-55) were more likely to have owned vinyl in the past, although it seems that most of them have sold their turntables or given them away and moved on to other mediums. Many were even surprised to hear about the slight resurgence of vinyl. One man I talked to said that he, “knew he should have held onto all those records.”

As I assumed, the medium of cassettes is pretty much dead and the one person (Ben Harrison) who buys cassettes only does so because his car lacks a CD player. There are also not many country fans in South Jersey– at least ones who shop at Tunes.

I’d like to graph some of this information, but I haven’t yet had time, so stay posted, for the record

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Panasonic Won’t Nix Technics

Clearing up the confusion…

Panasonic have released an official statement that claims they have no current plans to discontinue the Technics brand of turntables.

If you’ve been browsing the vinyl blogs lately, you’ll most likely have heard a few people commenting that Technics would be discontinuing their trademark 1200 and 1210 turntables. The story first emerged at the DMCWorld site, where we were informed that:

“We have just heard the sad news from Panasonic (the manufacturer of Technics) that production of the world famous Technics SL-1200 and SL-1210 DJ turntables will stop at the end of February 2010. This marks the end of an era – Technics have been the industry standard for over 35 years with this turntable and the SL-1200 is synonymous with the DJ culture.”

The alleged statement was later repeated on sites such as Future Music and the Global Hardstyle forums, before quickly spreading across the internet.

Surprise, shock and disbelief were the common reactions to the rumours, and this was only compounded when Australia’s In The Mix site issued another statement from Panasonic spokesperson Ian North on November 27th. North was reported to have said that, “It is a sad day today, but due to low sales globally in analogue turntables a decision to stop production has been made on Technics Turntables. For Australia this means we will receive our last shipment in March.”

However– just three days later, North spoke to the Australian branch of Cnet, stating that his comments to In The Mix were “premature.” North talked about the “decline in the analog market,” before adding, “We are still supplying our dealers and we still have stock coming in.” That said, in the same article, Ryan Hochkins of Australian DJ equipment retailer DJ Warehouse has commented on ongoing distribution issues in his territory. “There’s always people who come in and want to buy Technics whether they’re at the price they are at now or the price they were at two years ago, but it was never easy for us to get them,” Hochkins states.

While all this was going on elsewhere, the DMCUpdate page where the story first originated was altered, now informing readers that: “Our latest update on the subject of the continued production of Technics turntables is that Panasonic NZ have now been advised by Panasonic Japan that there has not been an official decision made either way at this time. It may be some time before there is an official announcement from Panasonic Japan but we will keep you updated.” In The Mix was also finding it difficult to get a straight answer from Panasonic, with the Australian branch of the multi-national offering a closing statement that said, “In regard to the discontinuation of Technics analogue turntables, Panasonic Corp. has made no official global announcement with regard to this matter. Panasonic Australia is unable to provide any further comment.”

All this speculation and the lack of clear facts emerging led many to question whether this was all a clever stunt by Panasonic to increase demand in the short-term leading up to Christmas, with the Inverted Audio blog asking, “is this a mean viral marketing stratergy to boost global sales of their turntables?”

Well, we can now reveal that all talk of production stopping on Technics turntables has been untrue, as Panasonic have issued us with the following:

“As a major global business, Panasonic keeps all of its operations under constant review. However, there are no current plans to discontinue the Technics brand and the production of Technics turntables.”

Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Box Set Details

November 27th and 28th marked the 40th anniversary of the Rolling Stones concerts at Madison Square Garden that yielded the Rolling Stones’ breakthrough live album, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Reviewing the original album in the November 12th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone, they wrote, “It’s still too soon to tell, but I’m beginning to think Ya-Ya’s just might be the best album they ever made. I have no doubt that it’s the best rock concert ever put on record.”


It’s 40 years later and that statement remains as true as ever. In recognition of this historic occasion, ABKCO Records released Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set and Super Deluxe Box Set in the U.S. and Canada on November 3rd. Both Box Sets were released internationally by ABKCO and Universal Music Group on November 30th.

The Deluxe Box Set gives you three audio CDs including a remastered disc of the original Ya-Ya’s repertoire as well as a disc of five previously unreleased Stones tracks recorded at the MSG shows. The third CD encompasses unreleased performances by the shows’ stellar openers: B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner, five songs from the former and seven songs from the latter. The Box Set also includes a 56-page Collector’s book featuring photos and an essay by Ethan Russell, the acclaimed photographer who accompanied the Stones on the ’69 tour, whose book Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties was also released on November 2nd. The package also includes the original review by Lester Bangs, a series of recollections from a cross-section of fans who attended the concerts and a postcard size replica of the original Stones ’69 tour poster by David Edward Byrd. It comes with a code enabling fans to download “I’m Free (Live)” for Guitar Hero 5 in a limited number of Box Sets.

Included as well is a bonus 27 minute DVD presented in 5.1 surround by legendary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, also entitled Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The film includes brilliantly shot full-length performances of the five previously unreleased Stones songs — “Prodigal Son, ” “You Gotta Move,” “Under My Thumb,” “I’m Free” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Beyond the song performances, the film includes a sequence with Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Jack the Donkey during the cover shoot for the Ya-Ya’s album, and backstage meetings between the Stones and some of rock music’s most legendary artists.

The Super Deluxe edition of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert is the same as the Deluxe with the addition of three vinyl LPs, one of which has etched images featuring the cover art and the Rolling Stones’ signatures.

Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out Here: