Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vinyl is Still Cool



Imagine what the world would be like when digital has taken over everything. No more books, for a start. Life becoming less and less tactile, people communicating in shorter and shorter sentences, getting further apart with every meaningless tweet and Facebook post thrown out into the ether in the hopes that somebody will respond. Everybody quoting everybody else but never thinking for themselves. Nobody speaking directly to each other and dealing with emotions in the moment. Nobody taking emotional risks. Relationships getting more shallow if that’s possible.

The whole of life being experienced through the head and not the heart. Memory and the spoken language a thing of the past. The heart a vestigial organ. The human brain reduced to the size of pea because it doesn’t get used any more. Except for the part that creates the illusion that we’re really clever when we look something up on Google.

Hollywood has optimised on the digital age, making explosive, futuristic movies that impact on the senses like bombs exploding in the living room. But those movies are dry and cold and awfully dull really. There’s barely an original or truly creative idea in any of them.

Maybe, though, the digital age is nothing more than a passing fancy and maybe the proclaimers that it’s the way of the future are just unimaginative sods who know how to speaking convincingly from their soap box. We’re fascinated now, but we’ll get bored, we’ll move on to something different. We want the experience of life at the coal face and of love even if it’s uncomfortable sometimes. We like the sound of our own voices. We’re moved by music and creative ideas.

A romantic, renaissance type existence has more pleasure in it than a cold, digital, futuristic one. We like pleasure, our bodies and beings are wired for it. Even if we’ve never had it or had it enough we long for it. Something inside of our brain calls for it. And we like to feel and touch. 

Take the record industry. When CD’s took over from vinyl it was fun, it was exciting, it was the way of the future. But they just don’t look and feel the same. Some die-hards never gave up on vinyl. It  became a collector’s item. Many thought of it as a thing of the past, though. Maybe thought of it with regret. Then the digital age really closed the door. Or did it? Not with everybody. Some didn’t give up on their vinyl. Then some more didn’t. Soon there was a market again. Sooner than you would have thought. Amongst people born after the advent of CDs.

And that market is growing. According to the New York Times, CD sales are of course dropping, digital downloads are on the rise, but so is vinyl. Figures for Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music corporation, show that from 2011 to 2012 vinyl album sales rose by 3%. All major labels release vinyl now and the number of vinyl pressing plants around the US is growing, working to capacity.It's happening in Asia, also.

It's not just classic albums like The Beatles being re-released on vinyl. French Punk sold 19,000 vinyl albums in a week on releasing Random Access Memories. About 25 million discs were pressed in the US last year. Record players are being manufactured and the whole industry is starting over again. A industry based on our need for a tactile life. Because tactile is cool amongst college age kids. 

Thank God somebody’s got some sense. You watch: one day Microsoft, Google and Apple are going to get into recycling paper and the book manufacturing and marketing business. If they're smart enough. If there are any real brains left in any of those organizations.