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New market sparks vinyl revival

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vinyl records

INLSA

Cape Town. 130213. Brian Adams of Brian Vinyl in Greenmarket square where he sells his wares from. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

THEY were consigned to the scrap heap and were supposed to die a quiet death – but they are now making a comeback.

What are we hearing again?

Vinyl records, of course – because it’s cool to have a turntable at home.

Despite the higher production costs, record label Gallo Music is releasing Afrikaans pop star Arno Carstens’s new album Atari Gala on both vinyl and CD, and is considering pressing more vinyl albums.

Gallo’s product and marketing manager Neil Greenberg said there was still an “appetite” for vinyl, but less so for cassettes. “Vinyl is the physical format with more potential. You can’t beat the warmth of a great vinyl pressing,” he said.

Greenberg said there was a “resurgence” of demand for vinyl. “Recently, retailers have been stocking USB turntables, which is whetting the vinyl appetite,” he said.

The revival across Europe and the US had created a new market they were looking to tap into. “We decided to put out a vinyl to test the market, and we will obviously be looking at doing additional releases, with artists like Simphiwe Dana, Dorothy Masuka and Lucky Dube,” Greenberg said.

Laurent Lenoine is the manager of Revolution Records in Observatory, and says the demand has been led by a growing interest from young people in records that exist in a “physical” form.

“There’s been a change over the past five years, because for the youngsters it’s a new format. It’s skipped a generation,” Lenoine said.

After the introduction of CDs in the 1980s, South African record companies stopped pressing vinyl in the early 1990s. Worldwide sales of records dropped to 300 000 copies in 1993.

Since then sales have steadily grown, picking up significantly since 2008. Last year, vinyl sales increased by 39 percent, according to media research agency Nielsen Soundscan, from 2.8 million units in 2010 to 3.9 million units in 2011 in the US.

While collectors are still buying original records by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, newer genres of reggae, punk and new wave have seen vinyl sales on the rise. “We also sell more obscure bands like The 13th Floor Elevators. These type of records are very hard to find and they supplement our collection,” Lenoine said.

The nostalgia for vinyl is making records more mainstream. “A lot of the reason for the interest in vinyl is that it’s a very cool thing to have a record player in your home,” Lenoine said.

“It’s going back to the authentic vinyl, and the mechanical process of turning over the record.”

Mabu Records manager Jeanne Cilliers says people are increasingly coming in and asking for vinyl versions. “I have people who come in and ask for local music on vinyl. People like the artwork, they like the crackling sound.”

Cilliers has found old-school vinyl records haven’t lost their charm. “We sell more vinyls than CDs. People are trying to get rid of CDs because of iTunes.”

“There is an authentic warmth that you get from a record that you just don’t get from a CD.

“It’s a kind of nostalgia,” Greenberg said. - Cape Times


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