Music Business

Who is buying all that vinyl?

We know that there is a new generation of music listeners who have a great interest in vinyl records. But there are a lot of details behind all those purchases that may surprise you.

by Bobby Owsinski from Music 3.0

It was long assumed that the upswing in the vinyl record business was spearheaded by aging Boomers trying to regain some of their youth with a new purchase of their old collection. That’s far from the truth however, as the “Vinyl 1.0” generation is slowly fading away yet vinyl sales increased. So if it’s not Boomers driving vinyl sales, then who? MusicWatch found out exactly who makes up this new generation of vinyl buyers, and the reasons behind their purchasing decisions are quite surprising.

The suppositions about young vinyl buyers appear to be all wrong. It was thought they don’t have turntables, don’t listen to the records, and only bought the top hits. Wrong! Here’s what MusicWatch found out.

  • They truly are “newbies: Nearly 8 in 10 have started purchasing vinyl in the past five years.
  • Vinyl 2.0 buyers like to display vinyl, but they like listening to it even more: 37% say they buy to display, much more than the older group. Even so 78 percent intend to listen to the new vinyl albums that they buy; it’s just that some records jockey between the wall and the stylus.
  • Current releases from popular artists are their favorite type of new vinyl album: but they buy across the spectrum of reissues and re-releases, releases from indie bands, and even more specialized genres such as Classical or Jazz. They love to rediscover older music that they’ve never heard before.
  • Alternative, HipHop and Classic Rock are equally their favorite genres. Not surprisingly, Classic Rock is the preferred genre for older buyers- by a landslide.
  • Packaging proceeds performance: Purchase motivations for the younger generation are more likely to frame around packaging; liking the artwork or disc design. That’s not to say younger buyers don’t appreciate the sound quality and authenticity of vinyl- they just don’t have the same nostalgic connection to sound features as the older buyers.
  • Supporting artists is important: One-third say that they buy vinyl to support artists They overwhelmingly believe it is important to support artists beyond just listening to their music. Seeing artists and labels embrace the format motivates these buyers to also support vinyl.
  • An opportunity for equipment manufacturers: More than half are intending to upgrade their audio equipment in the next year. These younger buyers are less likely to own a turntable than their predecessors. And when they do own, it’s more likely to be a USB driven or self-contained unit. They aren’t decorating rooms with component stereos like Mom and Dad. This all points to a great opportunity for device manufacturers to educate them on how to get better sound and value out of their vinyl collections.
  • They are connected to physical formats- and streaming too: Younger vinyl buyers are as omni-format a buyer as you’ll ever see. 86 percent stream music (76 percent used a paid music streaming service). Nearly half (45 percent) are also buying CDs. Compared to the general population they are 4 times as likely to be buying digital downloads.
  • They are invested in the format: 93% are interested in buying vinyl next year, compared with 96% of Vinyl 1.0 buyers.”

In short, the new generation of vinyl buyers are just as invested in the format as their parents and grand-parents are, maybe even more so. That can only be a good thing, as continued purchasing of vinyl means also purchasing of better playback equipment to get the most out of it, which means a more sonically-education music lover. Everyone’s a winner!

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer, author and coach. He has authored 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.

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