Sony Music is preparing to make its own vinyl records again in Japan, in another sign that albums are back from the brink of being obsolete. The company says it’s installing record-cutting equipment and enlisting the help of older engineers who know how to reproduce the best sound.
Vinyl sales have seen a resurgence since around 2008. And while records are still a small part of the market, the fact that in 2016, “a format nearly a century old generated 3.6 percent of total global revenues is remarkable,” as NPR’s Andrew Flanagan has reported.
Years of double-digit growth in record sales have left vinyl press plants in the U.S., Japan and elsewhere struggling to meet demand. Sony’s plan reportedly includes the possibility that it will press records on contract.
As the creator of the Walkman and a co-developer of the CD format, Sony helped to end the era of vinyl albums. And while sales of digital music have been hit in recent years by the popularity of streaming audio on Spotify, Pandora and other outlets, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper quotes Sony Music Japan’s CEO Michinori Mizuno saying that when it comes to vinyl, “a lot of young people buy songs that they hear and love on streaming services.”
Fans of vinyl cite the rich sound it provides and say album art and liner notes give them a more tangible sense of connection to the music they love.
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