What Publishers Can Learn From the Vinyl Comeback

[responsive]vinyl[/responsive]It’s been almost two decades since music publishers have seen the kind of vinyl sales that happened last year, up by 52% over the year before. To be sure, notes Chris Sutcliffe in The Media Briefing, a 52% increase in very small sales is still small sales. Yet the figures demonstrate something beyond dollars and cents.

“A clue might lie in the fact that it’s been a revival in EPs and LPs rather than in singles – it suggests that people are not buying the music simply to listen to the latest release,” Sutcliffe proposes. “Instead, they’re turning to other sources like streaming for that immediate delivery of new content – they’re buying vinyl for the status that owning it confers.”

The same phenomenon can be seen in the Sega Genesis video game release and in resilient hardcover book sales over the past few years, Sutcliffe notes.

“That new content in an old format embodies the allure of the new with the tangibility of a real physical object,” he continues, noting the sensory qualities inherent in these tangible medias that are missing in our post-digital age.

What can publishers draw from this? For one, consumers are tangible creatures. Print publishers also have the advantage that their magazines didn’t go nearly extinct in the way vinyl did. Even if consumers wanted the music on vinyl, they would have been hard-pressed to buy the technology on which to play them when electronics stores were pushing digital.

That’s the huge benefit of print magazines and books – there is no technology required. So the takeaway then is about content that’s worth keeping. If you are publishing content that stands alone and is read once, digital is where your consumers will likely be reading you (think newspapers). If your content is worth having around, then the vinyl comeback can serve to strengthen your resolve to keep printing.