The enduring love affair with vinyl will continue, says TW regular Rob Palmer…
Opening a vinyl record store just under a year ago was looked on as a very brave move. But doing so during a pandemic with all the lockdown restrictions and implications? It was viewed as completely insane.
It is less of a gamble though when you consider that over five million vinyl records were sold in 2021, up by 8%, and on the back of 14 consecutive years of growth.
Thirty years ago, the collapse of vinyl sales brought the closure of the many pressing plants and record shops. With that collapse, my dream of opening a record shop was left in tatters.
For many years vinyl was on life-support, with a faint pulse provided by professional DJs who preferred this format for their live shows, but consumers moved to CDs and began to evict their existing vinyl collections from their homes. Subsequently we fell out of love with the usurper of vinyl, ditching the CD and forming a relationship with downloads and streaming. The progress of technology now provides us access to more than 70 million songs.
There are many theories put forward to explain the remarkable return of the long player format: the ownership of a physical product is more desirable than owning a ‘fresh air’ download, and there’s the album cover, which is an art form in its own right. Then there’s the ritual of playing a vinyl record, a rewarding activity that also provides us with an escape from our hectic lifestyles.
Listening to a whole body of work, punctuated by having to flip over the record and replace the needle halfway through, one is encouraged to sit and listen, and it makes us feel more connected to the artist and the music.
The continuing increase in the purchase of vinyl by younger listeners, and with vinyl not automatically being lost to advancements in technology, means a healthy future for the format.
I love the fact that vinyl brings people together. Streaming is a solitary pastime, enjoyed solely by the individual with headphones. On the whole, vinyl buyers visit a physical shop and at Roan Records many friendships have been forged between customers, who then take their purchases home and play them to everyone in earshot.
We’ll be sending our collective Valentine’s card to the vinyl format and pledge our ongoing love for many years to come!
Rob Palmer is the owner of Roan Records,
12 Church Road, Teddington TW11 8PB.