Reps from Third Man Records, Audio-Technica, Henry Rollins and more speak about the future of a once-dying format

Late last year, Discogs spoke with industry experts, collectors and enthusiasts from around the world about the future of the vinyl format. Representatives from Third Man Records, Warner Music Group, Record Store Day, Audio-Technica, along with vinyl connoisseur Henry Rollins all share their thoughts on the future of the format.

They provide valuable insights on the growth of the format informed by news from Nielsen of the nine percent growth in 2017 and BPI reporting an increase of 26.8% in the United Kingdom. In mid-February, Discogs will provide insights into the global market that will shed an even brighter light on the growth of not only the vinyl format but all physical formats.

Ben Blackwell of Third Man Records states, “My response to Nielsen’s report of vinyl flattening is that their focus and metric is isolated and isolated from the entirety of the business. There are still COUNTLESS labels and self-releases that never come close to the Nielsen barcode scanning radar. I mean, I’d venture to guess that upwards of 90% of seven-inch sales are completely undocumented in this country. That’s insane. We have at least ten seven-inches in our catalog that have shifted more than 10,000 copies. Granted, we are probably the ONLY label that can claim those numbers, but I am unsure what of these records shows up on Nielsen, if anything. I do know when we started TMR in 2009, Soundscan was not even tracking seven-inch sales. I’m confused as to whether or not that has changed in the intervening years.”

Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz comments, “I’m skeptical of anyone who thinks they can predict the future, but I can look at where we are right now and get a good indication of where things are going. I work with indie record stores and they need to be profitable on what they buy and sell to succeed. Right now, they are stocking more vinyl and are selling more vinyl than before. They are also buying and selling more turntables than ever before.”

He continues, “The price of good used vinyl continues to go up, also another good indicator of where things are going. On top of that, Record Store Day this year broke all sales records for the most vinyl sold in one day. And, the final indicator is that Record Store Day partnered with Third Man to launch the first ever music industry convention devoted to vinyl manufacturing, called Making Vinyl. We hoped maybe 100 music industry people would show up. It looks like we will triple that. All of this tells me that vinyl hasn’t peaked and isn’t near peaking.”

Black Flag co-founder Henry Rollins thinks the vinyl trend will continue, as well. “I think vinyl sales will continue to go well. I don’t think it’s a bubble. The appreciation of vinyl is a thing because before CDs, you really didn’t have media by which to compare. You had records and tapes and that’s how recorded music sounded. After 30+ years of digital music, streamed music and whatever other digital source, listeners now have the opportunity to have that “wow” moment when they hear vinyl through good playback and are able to determine, with no doubt, that vinyl sounds much, much better than a CD or something blaring out of your phone.”

He continues, “So, what I’m hoping for is great new releases and reissues on high-quality vinyl, mastered to perfection, excellent packaging at prices that allow young people to go to the record store with frequency. I’m hoping that RSD becomes a true cultural event. Maybe labels that have mandatory listens, like Coltrane‘s A Love Supreme or Television‘s Marquee Moon, would put these titles on sale at a price to inspire young people to give this “old” music a chance. It would be great if there was a massive list of “must hears” that would be in perpetual discount to allow curiosity, and sales, to flourish. Bowie, Stooges, Velvet Underground, Miles, etc.

“Every house and apartment should have records and record players in them. Things would be better.”

Insights from Warner Music Group, Audio Technica, Variety and others can be read on the Discogs Blog.

Discogs is the user-built database of music. In the past year, the online database surpassed eight million and nine million catalog releases, marking substantial growth. In addition, Discogs connects buyers and sellers across the globe. With more than 35 million items available and thousands of sellers, this is the premier spot for new releases to hard to find gems. Download the Discogs App for iOS and Android.