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music ARE THEY COMING BACK?

Vinyl and CDs have seen a resurgence in the past few years, what’s triggering it?

For people born before the 1980’s it represents the way we use to consume music. The thought of purchasing the latest release from one of your idol, the trip to the record store, the browsing, reading the credits in the back of the CD or LP, purchasing your product, going back home, unwrapping it, putting it for the first time on the turntable or CD player to finally discover the music.

All of this is anticipation, a huge part of music consumption for those over 40.

There is something difficult to describe about the touching of a record sleeve or a CD case, the reading of the stories, how the music came about.

For those born after the 1980’s, it is the discovery of a time that once was. The commitment of buying a handful of tunes in one album rather than selecting the one trending on a digital music platform, and appreciating the anticipation described above.

The new millennium, the outstanding technological progress, the universal availability of music online has forced record stores small and large to close doors. The big names such as Tower Records or HMV once available in all major cities in the US and the western world have disappeared and the resurgence of physical music purchase is not quite enough yet to re-open those stores.

There is however one bastion where browsing for music in stores never weakened.



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Japan is paradise for music lovers, the last place on earth where Tower Records and HMV still do business. 80% of the music consumed in Japan comes from CDs and LPs sales. It has nothing to do with prices, a CD sold in Japan is twice as expensive than anywhere else in the world. There is 1 music store for every 21K Japanese, in the US, it is 1 for every 184K Americans, The United States are the largest music market in the world, and the stores in the US are small independent music shops owned by passionate people who often have a hard time to survive.



Why Japan has resisted the switch to all digital?

Part of it is the complexity with which the record labels and platform execs have imposed their music licensing model for music online. Another reason is the limited amount of info you get when selecting 1 track from a streaming platform, another important reason in my opinion is cultural. If you have traveled to Japan, you may have noticed beyond the overall exotic landscape and way of life such as the use of vending machines for just about anything, that Japanese like to do things differently. They like to be the first to introduce a new technology and make the world longing for it. If they notice a trend in vogue in the Western world, they may not jump in the bandwagon that easily.

As a foreigner, visiting Japan as a tourist is easy. Obtaining permission to work in Japan is very difficult, getting the Japanese citizenship is close to impossible. The government is suspicious of your reasons to become a citizen. They have an ancestral culture they are very proud of and are afraid that too much mixing with other cultures would dilute their own.



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If you are a pre-owned or vintage vinyl digger, Tokyo is your town and especially 2 neighborhoods: Shibuya and Shimokitazawa but be careful, if you start digging, you won’t have time for anything else.

While the sales of CDs and Vinyls are striving in Japan, can we experience a come back in the West?

As much as I would like it, It seems unlikely.
 

Alcove Audio

Business Member
indieBIZ
As one of those born before 1980 (1958) I still like CDs and DVDs, always have. It's not just "purchasing your product, going back home, unwrapping it, putting it for the first time on the turntable or CD player to finally discover the music," it's the sense of physical ownership. Having an song, album, or movie residing on a server in some high tech basement somewhere is not the same. When it comes to vinyl albums I miss the extensive liner notes, the artwork and the extras like posters.

Album releases were also a chance for a serious get together. When an album came out one of us would buy the album, another would grab a six-pack or two, and we would all troop to the house of whoever had a really great stereo system and no parents at home that afternoon. We would all settle in, crank up the music, and almost bathe in the new songs. For some reason I even miss waiting on a long line over night to get concert tickets. Maybe what I miss is the sense of community.
 
Fully agree with the sense of ownership and collecting. Interestingly, technology which was supposed to make communication between people easier is actually complicating it in my opinion.
 
What most appeals to me about analog/hard-copy music (and photos) is succinctly summarised by the letters "AR" on a Chuck Berry "45" single in my collection. AR was my mother's flat-mate, when my mother was in her 20s, and they used to each write their initials on their records to avoid ownership disputes!

I never knew my mother when she was in her 20s :lol: and her grandchildren certainly do not know her as someone who would have listened to Chuck Berry, let alone stolen one of his records from her flatmate! :angry: You'll never get that kind of inter-generational WTF? experience with an MP3 file.
 
What most appeals to me about analog/hard-copy music (and photos) is succinctly summarised by the letters "AR" on a Chuck Berry "45" single in my collection. AR was my mother's flat-mate, when my mother was in her 20s, and they used to each write their initials on their records to avoid ownership disputes!

I never knew my mother when she was in her 20s :lol: and her grandchildren certainly do not know her as someone who would have listened to Chuck Berry, let alone stolen one of his records from her flatmate! :angry: You'll never get that kind of inter-generational WTF? experience with an MP3 file.
Wow! Indeed, Ownership implied that it could be stolen or borrowed and never returned. I had the good fortune to work in a radio station back in Paris in the late 70's, it was the period were a large number of private and illegal radio stations were called "RADIOS LIBRES". We were receiving promotional albums from record labels to play. They were embossed with a stamp mentioning the sample nature of the record and they were not to be sold.
The radio station affixed its own stamp with: "Property of the radio station". Nonetheless, I brought home a few of those records and never returned them.
 
I sometimes wonder how the digitalisation of so much of our stock of memories will affect plotlines in future screenplays. There is still time for my children to find a box of hard-copy photos (or letters or diaries) in the attic, a discovery that could set up a whole narrative, or be a pivotal turning point in the story. But their children will find almost no physical record of their existence, and even the digital evidence of my own existence, and theirs, during the last two decades is becoming progressively harder to access, and some (even with "lifetime" guarantees by online archives) is lost forever due to a change in ownership or T&Cs.
 
I sometimes wonder how the digitalisation of so much of our stock of memories will affect plotlines in future screenplays. There is still time for my children to find a box of hard-copy photos (or letters or diaries) in the attic, a discovery that could set up a whole narrative, or be a pivotal turning point in the story. But their children will find almost no physical record of their existence, and even the digital evidence of my own existence, and theirs, during the last two decades is becoming progressively harder to access, and some (even with "lifetime" guarantees by online archives) is lost forever due to a change in ownership or T&Cs.
There are reasons for concerns but I am not as pessimistic as you are. The vinyl we believe was dead 30 years ago is coming back and pressed again.
I believe silver prints will come back as well. There is as much art in developing and printing a film than in photo composition. My father who was a photographer keeps regretting the time spent in the dark room. Kodak and Fuji will make again films for 6X6 and 24X36. When....:)
 
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