In these digital times, a quiet analogue revolution spins ahead

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl records sold more than CDs in 2020 and sales of vinyl records clocked a whopping $1 billion. New Musical Express reports that over five million vinyl records were sold in the U.K. and in 2021 they hit a record high in 30 years. This fact is also corroborated by IMARC, a leading market research company that expects the market to reach US$ 2.6 Billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.4% during 2022-2027.

Closer home, comprehensive numbers are elusive, however the situation seems buoyant. “The market is only growing every day. Younger people join the community, getting intrigued by this oldest format of music and finding a connection with the artist and music,” says Nehal Shah, Founder, India Record Co. “It helps you connect deeper with the sound and gives you the ‘me time’ you desire so much in this fast-paced digital world.”

Purists and hard-core music lovers will agree. The pandemic induced lockdown where people spent time largely at home has also boosted the sales of vinyl in the country. In India, the market size is currently unfortunately not pegged to a number because there are so many collectors out there, people who have inherited a collection or carefully built one over the years since the 1960s. “These people are in the background but with our efforts to bring the community together, we find more and more people coming forward and talking about their prized possession, their vinyl,” says Shah. “The market is currently unorganised with record sellers [being of a certain age] not having access to the internet or social media. Not many people know of them. Our collective effort is to bring these dying businesses together and, in the forefront, too.”

As an ode to the popularity of vinyl, Record Room, India’s first craft beer and vinyl bar, has opened in the heart of Bengaluru and offering a tipple while patrons experience analogue joys of vinyl. As they build a platform to promote artists and music enthusiasts who subscribe to the vinyl culture, expect unique listening programs and events that delve into the beauty of analogue music. In addition, Record Room hopes to foster a community of vinyl listeners who can explore their interests through a vinyl exchange program. Listening programs and vinyl events are slowly creeping back into the country’s cultural calendar. There’s also Pagal Records in Delhi, The Revolver Club in Mumbai, Kolkata’s Vibrations, Rhythm in Chennai among others.

Karthik Chandrasekaran, Co-founder, Record Room says, “Since we opened, vinyl-curious guests who experience analog for the first time at Record Room’s listening station, ask us about how to source records and turntables. This clearly indicates that they too are fascinated by the pop and crackle and complete experience of listening to vinyl – just like we were.  On the other hand, vinyl aficionados have brought their collections to us requesting us to play their records while they enjoy the experience of food and drink that we offer. Based on this response – we have designed a series of vinyl programs at Record Room to further engage with this community.”

Angad Berar, a Bengaluru-based musician recently released his album ‘Elephants on the Beach’ on vinyl and has stated on record that there is little competition to the retro charm of an LP. Berar is not alone. Kolkata duo Parekh & Singh have released two albums, ‘Ocean’, and ‘Science City’ on the UK label Peacefrog Records. Shillong-based band, Soulmate will also be releasing an LP soon.  Peter Cat Recording Co. have released two albums ‘Portrait of A Time’ and ‘Bismillah’ with the French label Panache and Mumbai-based producer Kumail released ‘Yasmin’ on New York’s Bastard Jazz Recordings.

Undoubtedly, this is not a trend but something that is here to stay, and turntables are all set to make records (pun unintended).

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