Josh Havens of The Afters, as well as Tyler Pittman, VP of Sales and Marketing for Columbia Records recently gave me their thoughts on vinyl’s comeback for a piece I wrote for SHORE Magazine (pick up a copy in Chicago, Northwest Indiana, or Michigan). I had to cut their quotes, but they both had some pretty interesting thoughts on the re-emergence of the format…so I thought I’d pass it along to you.
By the way, if you’re out on the west coast, check out Amoeba Records in San Francisco, Hollywood, or Berkley. I picked up records from Bob Dylan, Sugarland (yes, it’s a country album…get over it and check out one of the best projects this year in any genre), Bruce Springsteen, and a rare European import of Cash & Dylan together on fourteen songs.
Alright, here you go.
Josh Havens, concerning vinyl:
We released a vinyl single with a couple of songs on it that was free with the purchase of our CD at certain stores. We did it to gauge our fans response to a vinyl release as well as an incentive to purchase the the CD from those retailers. What surprised me was how enthusiastic of some of our younger fans were about having our music on vinyl. That made me wonder it really is making a comeback.
There has been talk of a Vinyl resurgence for as long as I can remember. I went through a vinyl kick when i was in college. I don’t think that they’re going to replace CDs or IPODs any time soon, but there are definitly a lot of audiophiles that enjoy the overall experience of listening to a record on vinyl. There has long been a debate over analog versus digital sound. My brother and I had this discussion recently. He is obsessed with vinyl right now and is replacing many of his CDs and MP3s with Vinyl. He likes the “truer sound” that vinyls produce and even finds the crackles and pops a beautiful part of the vinyl listening experience. Digital recordings capture sample of sound which can be heard as sterile and crisp. That is changing as digital technology improves. There will always be a market for vinyl though, because there is no way to completely reproduce the vinyl listening experience digitally.
Tyler Pittman from Columbia (a guy who could put more vinyl on shelves):
I think the attraction of vinyl is on several levels. I would be hesitant to say it is making a major comeback but it is definitely seeing a resurgence that has brought it back from extinction in regards to new releases and it is another option for consumers. I think a lot of younger listeners are discovering vinyl either from their parents or other older family members/friends’ collections and realizing how the sound can capture things like low end and that particular “warmth” people like to reference so often. I think it also represents a way to get a piece of art or souvenir from a particularly favorite band and offers a tangible satisfaction that is somewhat lacking with the CD. CD’s, with few exceptions, really don’t have much to offer by way of showcasing the artistic statement that is the visual compliment to the aural experience. Most vinyl records now offer an MP3 download or CD in the package that the consumer can have for portability’s sake. This was a good idea for our culture and the ubiquitous iPod. It makes it appealing to the consumer wanting something a bit more. That and they just look and feel cool.
Finally, Tyler on Columbia’s decision to release P.O.D’s latest on vinyl:
We made the P.O.D. vinyl for the super fan not so much for the casual listener to keep them from buying individual tracks. Also I have to add that I don’t feel all albums should be released on vinyl. As far as the album as a format versus the single, I would hope that eventually we gravitate back toward the album as a whole versus a group of random songs. Consumers feel they have been ripped off for years with substandard releases that have one or two decent songs amongst 12 or more. The CD with its larger storagecapacity was arguably not a great thing for the album format. If artists release music in the form of multiple songs that are meant to be heard in sequence or at least as a whole then I think we will be heading in the right direction to get people to think of the album as an individual work. This industry began around the single or track and has made its way full circle. There will always be those who just prefer individual songs and choose them over an album but now it has become a choice where before you had to buy the whole thing to get one or two songs you really loved. I think the answer is to make music for your fans and make it good enough that they want everything you have to offer. Build the super fan and they will digest all you have to give. The casual fan will always cherry pick what they like. As a musicconsumer it is incredibly exciting right now. As an industry professional it is challenging but good music will prevail in the end I believe.