According to Hannah Karp, music industry reporter for The Wall Street Journal, iTunes sales have dropped…a LOT! Since the beginning of 2016, Apple reported a 13-14% decline in worldwide sales from iTunes. What does this mean for the music industry?
The article attributes some of the falloff to the plethora of free streaming videos and low monthly subscriptions to apps such as Spotify and Pandora. I, on the other hand, think there is another reason for Apple’s stumble: Vinyl!
Physical media—record albums and cassettes, is hot again. The Millennial generation, after getting their fill of everything from Kazaa to iTunes, is starting to dig into the dusty stacks at local record stores. They are following the older generations who are trying to rebuild lost album collections or connect with the memories of their younger selves.
Prior to the new vinyl generation, Jazz albums were mostly overlooked. Thanks to the resurgence of physical media, kids today are enjoying the three-dimensional sounds of Jazz artists from Miles Davis to Kamasi Washington.
Then there is classic rock. It’s a real treat to watch my father put on an album from the late 70s—the Cars, Bob Seger or Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and proceed to read the lyrics from the album cover sleeve while the music plays. Music to his generation meant connecting with the artists and ALL the songs on their album. It’s as if each song on the album was a chapter in a book; there was a lot of thought given to the arrangement of the music, and which songs went on side one vs. side two.
One of the differences I have noticed from albums that are 30-40 years old versus today’s albums is the work that went into creating the product. It’s like old and new buildings in a big city. The new ones are non-descript structures; they could be any building on any street. The older buildings, however, are testaments to the artists that constructed them. The same is true for albums—in every detail from the cover to the album itself. If you love music and are just getting exposed to the world of vinyl, it will completely change the way you listen to it.
My hope is for a turntable in the home or apartment of every young music lover around the world. Let’s get back to listening to music the way it was intended to be listened to—on vinyl, while sitting in a chair, reading the lyrics and connecting with the artist.