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Vinyl Is About to Become a Billion-Dollar Industry

A great opportunity for the Financial Times to talk about “hipsters.”

by Alex Robert Ross
Jan 15 2017, 5:53pm

I'm not being arrogant, but I'm pretty sure that I could be a "forecaster" for a major corporation. Sure, I predicted that Joe Biden would be the 45th President of the United States, that the Boston Celtics would play the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, and that Frank Ocean's second studio album would come out in 2018 if it came out at all. But as a "forecaster," I figure none of this would matter. After my predictions inevitably failed, I could cite anomalies, state that all of my data was sound, and that, shit, it was only a prediction in the first place, I'm not a soothsayer, YOU're the crazy one for believing me. Then I would collect my paycheck.

The Financial Times reported this week that vinyl is poised to become a billion-dollar industry in 2017. Citing research from amorphous multinational Deloite, they wrote that vinyl, "is expected to generate between $800m and $900m in revenue in 2017," putting it on the cusp of a billion-dollar year for the first time since the 1980s.

"Vinyl should account for almost a fifth of the sales of physical music products in 2017," they wrote, "and around 7 per cent of the $15bn that the global music industry is expected to take."

But somebody has to gaze into a crystal ball. So the FT spoke to Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecoms research at Deloitte, who

...warned against over-exuberance for the vinyl format, which he argued had been inflated by nostalgia and its fashionable image. "In 1981, over 1bn albums were sold. In 2017 it will be around 40m. "This is not the resurgence that is portrayed. It is a blip," he said.

Damn, Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecoms research at Deloitte, that's ominous. As far as he's concerned, albums from established legends like David Bowie and Leonard Cohen drove the vinyl industry last year, but "hipsters" won't stick around forever.

He argued that while hardcore music fans would continue to splurge on expensive vinyl reissues and deluxe re-pressings, less dedicated consumers buying records could fall away over the coming years. He cited a BBC poll that showed that almost half of the people that purchased a vinyl record had not played it within a month and that 7 per cent of them did not even own a turntable.

He cited a BBC poll. Goddamnit, Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecoms research at Deloitte, that's some serious clairvoyance.

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