Last week, for the first time ever, the amount spent on vinyl records overtook that spent on digital downloads in the UK. Vinyl sales totalled £2.4million compared to the £2.1million spent on digital.
The ever-increasing number of independent record shops on UK high streets might be the cause of this surge, but the reality is that vinyl has never been so accessible.
“It’s something that we never expected to happen again,” said Mark Elliot, reminiscing on his time working for Record Collector in the heart of Sheffield.
“Vinyl has almost become a fashion item, more a piece of decoration than a medium for music.”
The resurgence of vinyl has come in the last five years, riding the wave of a vintage revolution.
High street stores Tiger and Urban Outfitters are amongst those now stocking records, alongside numerous charity shops and supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
At the forefront of this ‘Vinyl Revolution’ are manufacturers like Crosley Radio, who have been producing fashionable and affordable turntables since 1992.
But recently, Urban Outfitters have picked up on the trend, pulling a once niche pastime into the mainstream. It looks like vinyl is no longer an interest of audiophiles and nostalgic dads alone.
This newfound popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed. Record companies have since been hiking prices, with a single record selling for as much as £70 in stores. Twenty One Pilots, for example, are retailing their ‘Blurryface Live’ vinyl for £67.99.
Record shops have always had a presence in Sheffield. The city, which has recently been identified by property website Zoopla as a “hipster hotspot”, is home to an array of independent retailers and restaurants.
Among the quirky record stores is Rare & Racy, an independent music and vintage store which Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker fought to save in March last year. The indie outlet, which has traded on Devonshire street since 1969, came under threat when Sheffield City Council voted in favour of the building’s demolition.
The council has since approved plans to replace the building despite a 20,000-signature petition to save it.
Although Rare & Racy’s closure will come as a hit to Sheffield’s indie music scene, the campaigns that appeared to preserve it prove how important these retailers are to the city.
PhD student and music enthusiast Emily Hall said: “Vinyl just sounds rawer.”
“I like the process of physically playing the music with a turntable, it’s so much more satisfying than pressing play on a computer.”
Sheffielders can also find a vast array of new and second-hand vinyl at Record Collector, the city’s largest independent record store. Record Collector first opened in 1978, selling CDs and vinyl in two adjacent shops in Broomhill.
Manager Mark Elliott said this ‘Vinyl Revolution’ is at no risk of slowing down.
He said: “People aren’t downloading music as much because they’re using streaming services instead.”
“If they’re going to buy music, they want something tactile that they can hold.”
“It’s nice to know that people want to connect with music in whatever medium they choose.”