Vinyl hype?

niedow_endSince some years there is a lot of talk about a vinyl hype… and indeed it seems some people are selling more vinyl records as before… but the funny thing is that all small independent labels I know are only selling less and less… this is a strange paradox…

After some investigation into this matter by reading articles on vinyl sales and talking to different people including other small independent labels and the younger generation of music buyers I have a vague idea on this… but mostly more and more questions… I plan to get into this matter more thoroughly in the near future…

For me and I am quite sure my fellow small independent label bosses a good record is all about making a product which should amaze, surprise and confuse people who buy it…

It is all about telling stories and in some cases as what I am doing with Vrystaete and some other people are doing likewise the process of creating a record is a story on its own… it adds layers of meaning and value to the end product…

To me that is the real meaning and spirit behind DIY (Do It Yourself) and DIT (Do It Together)… making the difference by creating a more personal product… a product people can connect to and maybe even identify with… creating a product with real value and meaning to people…

Some time ago my label was called ‘the musical equivalent of avant-garde fashion”, which is quite striking I think. In the past I myself made the comparison between my label and biological, seasonal and locally grown food and handmade products.

While I still think this comparison is quite a good one it has maybe even more meaning as before… if a small independent record label is like a small independent garden with a shop where they sell only locally grown and seasonal biological vegetables then the big(ger) labels are like the Aldi and Lidl stores of this world or for that matter like any big(ger) supermarket…

These labels put out and sell uniform and impersonal products with no narrative… these records are not made to connect with, identify with and there is no need to invest time and energy in them to get into the story behind… as there is non… I do not say that the music on these records are not telling a story… I am focusing here on the product itself and the process of creating the product…

The buyer of these records is supporting an industry here, the vinyl industry, not necessarily music culture… This as an industry it is… the vinyl records being sold today are mostly those with older music, not only but for a big part it is about re-issues… music which was sold once on cassette tapes and vinyl, later on again on compact disc, then in a digital format and now again on vinyl…

So what we have is for a big part old(er) music being sold again on an old format… then of course there is the question who is buying these records and why these and not other vinyl records?

Maybe the younger generation buys vinyl records to store them and show off with while playing the music in a digital format they get as download code with the vinyl? Or… is there too much being produced and is it harder and harder for a small independent label to show up in between this weekly pile of records? Does the younger generation have no time or interest to invest in, and in connect to, a product?

And what about the older generation? The ones who bought vinyl records before the so-called hype? Did they stop buying records? Maybe they switched to cassette tapes, this as an act of resistance? Like producing and buying vinyl records were once during the cd era for some people? One of the reasons pressing plants still exist today…

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