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www.musicweek.com SECTORFOCUS VINYL


“In the early Nineties, people called vinyl a dying format. Twenty years later, it’s still


here and I think that while CDs will probably fade out, vinyl will survive”


SARAH BOLSHI, SUNDAY BEST


20.04.12 MusicWeek 15


While the CD slowly


makes way for a digital age, the classic vinyl


record looks set to stand firm in yet another era for recorded music. It seems you just can’t beat a bit of black plastic


FORMATS  BY TOM PAKINKIS


T


ake a look at any other entertainment industry and you’ll see a very linear progression as far as its main formats are


concerned. The film industry has moved from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray and video games were contained in chunky cartridges until they too slid onto CD before following Hollywood’s lead and adopting higher-quality discs. The format journey in the music industry,


however, hasn’t been quite so straightforward. While there was a steady progression from cassette to CD - which is now looking a little chilly under the digital cloud after its time in the sun - the vinyl disc has refused to go the way of other aging entertainment formats. It is still far from the archive of obsolescence. In fact, some are actually daring to couple the classic black


disc with words like ‘resurgence’, touting a full-on vinyl revival. Even the most casual record collector will be


able to tell you why vinyl is still a popular format - even though recent years have seen something of a sales surge, the appeal of its jet-black sheen and unique sound have never gone away. “For us it’s not necessarily a revival, vinyl


has always been fairly strong,” observes Neil Gibbons, general manager at Key Production, which boasts vinyl cutting, pressing and packaging among its specialities. “Vinyl itself is more interesting than other


formats, particularly when you take the packaging aspect of it into account. People want something more tangible almost like a big piece of art. The bands of the Seventies used to do fantastic sleeves that would make you think ‘Wow that’s amazing!’ “It has declined over the years,” he admits, “but if there is a revival, it’s a revival in different areas. It


Some are daring to couple the classic black disc with words like ‘resur- gence’, touting a full-on vinyl revival


used to be that the 12-inch was favoured by DJs. Now indie bands want to do 7-inch, 12-inch or even 10-inch records. “Often they won’t be straight-forward black


vinyl,” Gibbons continues. “They’ll be heavy vinyl, coloured vinyl or something special like that. They’re used more as an addition to a CD, as a collections item.” Gerard Saint, creative director of design


consultancy Big Active, says that the continued appeal of vinyl can be explained by contrasting it with the pitfalls of newer formats that are “sterile” in comparison to their veteran predecessor. He’s all for a “digital detox”. “I think the web has been both a great


accelerator and leveler in terms of accessibility and creativity,” he explains. “But we don’t live in ‘a one size fits all’ world and that’s where I think the music industry screwed up with the CD. “The product was too sterile, too easily


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