Friday, March 1, 2024

In time of music streaming, sales of LP records are resurging in PH

Long playing (LP) records — the analog mode of playing music some 50 years ago and the platform where record sales of iconic artists were originally measured — is now resurging in sales, adherents, and popularity.

Image from Freepik.com

One LP store in a department store in Makati said what is more surprising is majority of the buyers are aged 35 and below, not seniors who are perceived to be the aficionados of the old, almost obsolete medium of playing music.

“Who says all millennials prefer Spotify or digital music? I invite them to come here in our store to see for themselves who are our customers,” Romulo de Luna of Sensible Audio, one of the biggest sellers of LPs, turntables, amplifiers and speakers, the elements needed to listen to analog type of music, told Newsbytes.PH.

When it comes to artists, the best-selling singers in his store includes The Beatles, Lionel Richie, Rolling Stones, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Sharon Cuneta, the Apo Hiking Society, and Pilita Corrales.

As described by Wikipedia, the LP is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by: a speed of 33 +1⁄3 rpm; a 12- or 10-inch (30- or 25-cm) diameter; use of the “microgroove” groove specification; and a vinyl composition disk.

Introduced by Columbia, a subsidiary of Japan electronics giant Sony, in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry.

Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound, it remained the standard format for record albums until its gradual replacement from the 1980s to the early 2000s, first by cassettes, then by compact discs, and finally by digital music distribution.

An average LP in the Philippines costs P1,000 to P1,500 while expensive ones can cost P7,000. “These are the premium artists like The Beatles,” De Luna said.  

According to him, there is an average of 20 customers who buy in the store — mostly young businessmen who are considered belonging to the old school when it comes to music.

He shot down the perception that almost all people now prefer digitally-sourced music over analog. “It’s a myth and a very big lie because our number of customers say otherwise,” De Luna said, adding that the current fad is an intriguing blend of old and new ways of music distribution and playing.

According to research, the resurgent popularity of LPs started in 2007. The popularity of LPs led some stakeholders to establish Record Store Day, an annual event held every April and on Black Friday in November to “celebrate the culture of the independently owned record stores.”

The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores around the world. A number of records are pressed specifically for Record Store Day, with a list of releases for each country, and are only distributed to shops participating in the event.

The organizers of Record Store Day are headquartered in the United States, where it began. Official organizers also operate in the UK, Ireland, Mexico, Europe, Japan, and Australia.

Sales of LPs are also on the rise, according to data. Germany, for instance increased its sales from $655 million 2015 to $786 million in 2017; Japan from $1.1 billion in 2016 to $1.2 billion in 2017; Britain, $3.2 billion in 2017 to $4.2 billion in 2018; and the Netherlands, $650 million in 2016 to $1 billion in 2017.

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