Vinyl will peak in 2017, says a new report
Every year we're treated to another prediction about the forthcoming end days of the vinyl resurgence, in which demand will halt, records will stop spinning, and... we'll have an extra $20 in our pockets or whatever.
The first entry into this predictive narrative for 2017 comes courtesy of mega-accounting/consulting firm Deloitte, which says vinyl sales will grow at a double-digit rate over the next 12 months, for the seventh-straight year.
In fact, vinyl is slated to account for almost a fifth of physical music sales in 2017, according to Deloitte, which should generate between $800-$900 million, and even approach a billion once things like turntable sales are factored into the equation. If so, that would be the first time since the 1980s that vinyl has been recognized as an industry worth a billi.
Sounds pretty great right?
Unfortunately for this blog and its readers, says Deloitte, it's all gonna be downhill from there, as 2017 will be the year vinyl growth stabilizes. Since vinyl isn't the main way most people listen to music, the firm says, it will never reach the heights of sales from the '70s and '80s. (Duh!)
“My gut feeling is that it could peak this year,” Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecoms research at Deloitte, told the Financial Times.
In its full report on vinyl, Deloitte goes on to mention things like how vinyl sales slightly dipped in the U.S. last year (although that's not true everywhere) and how a box set of vinyl can cost way more than a year's subscription to a streaming service. It theorizes that vinyl buyers will likely remain a niche group of collectors who enjoy the ephemeral quality of albums and that they do not represent the majority of music consumers.
Hmmm. Does anyone out there really think vinyl is going to overtake streaming at this point? Do people who traffic in vinyl really feel like they're participating in an act that could be considered more popular than listening to music on your phone, even in 2017, when you can pick up a She & Him 12" at Whole Foods? The streaming services have won and for as much attention as vinyl has received over the past five years, it's still definitely not for everyone.
The report then goes on to describe how playing a record will keep a sturdy cap on its popularity, which was amazing enough to screenshot:
Ugh! Playing a record is so hard, you guys! And they're definitely at least wrong on the last part because playing a record while out and about is totally doable!
The thing is, most people I know who are into vinyl also have a subscription to a streaming service. They don't listen exclusively to vinyl, because that would be denying yourself access to about 99% of today's new music. In 2017, if you want to hear an album in full, it's hard to imagine someone shunning streaming and instead tromping on down to the local record mart, picking up the new Chainsmokers album or whatever, heading home, tossing it on the turntable (especially given that process outlined above, yuck!), discovering it sucks, and then heading back down to trade it in. Most people don't listen to music like that or think vinyl is the only way to discover fresh sounds.
If anything, vinyl is a complimentary outlet today for people who love music. If I really love an album I've heard on a streaming service or whatever, for instance, I'll buy it on vinyl. Not the other way around, and I feel like a lot of people think of a vinyl purchase in a similar way.
Anyways, whether or not vinyl has peaked is a fun media trend to watch but nothing really to take seriously. Even if 2017 is the year of PEAK VINYL, that's not really going to stop anyone I know from enjoying their collection, digging through dusty bins at record stores, or staring at cool album art any less.