New Meets Old: How ICT Boosts Vinyl Record Sales

Recent research suggests that the sales of vinyl records are being driven by apps or sites such as Spotify and YouTube. This is but another example of how new information and communication technology — music streaming, in this case — can help revitalize an old industry.

In a poll conducted by market research firm ICM Unlimited, 50% of vinyl buyers say that they streamed an album before making their purchases. Such practice was observed to be common among people who use ad-supported apps and sites like Spotify and YouTube, thus implying that free music may indeed drive the sales of other music products.

Interestingly, the same research revealed that also almost half of those who purchased records last month are yet to play what they bought. Furthermore, 7% of those who joined the survey stated that they are yet to own a record player too.

The reasons for such observations vary, with some survey respondents saying that they buy vinyl records to use them as decors because of their old-school vibe. Others, meanwhile, say that they purchase vinyl copies to financially support their favorite musicians. The rest, on the other hand, just want to have music they can hold and physically own just like in the past.

The comeback of vinyl records is among the music industry’s most unexpected success stories, specially in a time where the sales of music are dwindling continuously. Two years ago, 2.1 million vinyl records were sold to music aficionados as demand surged for 8 consecutive years.

Data from the Official Charts Company (which compiles the UK Albums Chart, among others) imply that the surge has spilled into this year, with 3 percent of UK’s music market already accounted for by vinyls in the first quarter of 2016 alone. Also, only 3% of women bought records 3 years ago, compared to the 5% that do so nowadays.

That said, vinyl records are still a small slice of the music pie. Around 73% of music is bought online, while only 1 in 10 people purchase vinyl records. Nonetheless, the case of vinyl records has shown that new ICT can actually both disrupt or resurrect old industries.

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