Vinyl's comeback makes musicians want to sing

Tue Dec 8, 2009 2:50pm EST
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By Terri Coles

TORONTO (Reuters) - As music lovers approach a new decade in this still-young century, a recording technology once considered old and obsolete -- vinyl -- has been making a strong comeback.

Vinyl albums, which began to be replaced by CDs in the mid-1980s, have rebounded in recent years as enthusiasts young and old turned sentimental for the old pops, cracks and warm sounds emitting from grooves on a record.

And as sales have rebounded, music makers ranging from big acts like Jack White and the Flaming Lips to local bands in major cities have been cranking out vinyl and treating fans with added material like old-style liner notes or posters.

If bands can keep costs low, they may even be able to make extra money in the financially-strapped music business where cheap digital downloads are replacing once-lucrative CD sales.

"It's hard to say how long it'll last, but even if you're 16-years-old, your parents probably have vinyl somewhere," said Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Flaming Lips. "So there's probably some trigger of another time, an exotic world where this was the way you bought music."

While vinyl records never truly became extinct from record store shelves, the current resurgence seems to have picked up pace starting around 2007. Last year, 1.9 million vinyl records sold, roughly double 2007. Industry tracker Nielsen SoundScan projects that 2.8 million units will be purchased in 2009.

A wide range of bands, from Radiohead and the Beatles to Bob Dylan and Metallica, have been shipping albums on vinyl. Radiohead, for instance, sold 61,000 vinyl records in 2008.

Turntable sales are increasing, too, suggesting vinyl is reaching new customers and not just collectors and purists.   Continued...

<p>Wilco's 2009 self-titled release is seen with a CD copy of the album along with the vinyl in Toronto December 3, 2009. REUTERS/Terri Coles</p>