“Physical distribution is a thing of the past”, they said. “Don’t bother kid – discs are dead!”, they said. “You know a Spotify account is just 12 bucks a month, you flippin’ grandpa? Stop blowing your pension on those damned phonographic records and get with the future you old coot!” … they, uhh… they said. Do people still talk like that?
Well, look who’s laughing now! What was thought by many to have gone the way of the long-lost Laserdisc™, the humble vinyl record has spent the last ten years going from dusty old relic to cherished artefact to a full-blown mainstream comeback, with vinyl sales reaching a record-breaking high last year at over 13 million units sold – the highest numbers since the inception of the Nielsen Soundscan in ’91.
With those kinds of figures, it’s pretty obvious that if you want to stay current in the music industry today, you’d better start dealing in wax. And thankfully, even if some of their competitors are slipping, Sony is listening.
As reported by the BBC, Sony is all set to begin pressing vinyl in-house for the first time in almost 30 years, having recently cemented plans for a brand-new processing plant to begin production by March 2018. This will be the first of the ‘Big Three’ major labels to begin in-house vinyl production since the decline of their respective vinyl branches in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
The plant will be located in Tokyo and will be one of only two vinyl pressing plants operating in the entire country, despite Japanese vinyl pressings being historically revered among audiophiles and collectors alike. Their only existing competitor, Toyo Kasei Co., has been in business for the better part of a century now and were the company that Sony outsourced their remaining vinyl pressing operation to upon ceasing in-house manufacture in 1989.
Ironically, it was Sony who played a major hand in seeing the vinyl record phased out in the first place, having co-developed its successor, the Compact Disc with fellow electronics giant Philips in 1982. Who would have thought that some 35 years later, in what is arguably the true ‘digital age’, that we’d see a company like Sony take such a radical swing back towards analogue technologies?
Although it’s still too early to know what this means for the vast, vast catalogue of out-of-print gems that Sony has lying in wait, fans worldwide have already begun speculation, compiling and comparing their various vinyl bucket-lists in anticipation. What a time to be alive.
Why not check out some of our vinyl/streaming-centric vids from the last 12months?
We have a dig with Thundamentals:
Vadar Fame and Zac Abroms share their thoughts on streaming in the modern music climate: