An inauthentic authenticity: the soulless side of vinyl

Coloured vinyl records

The vinyl resurgence has gone weird. A friend and I recently noted how record shops have become filled from floor to ceiling with uninspiring vinyl reissues that are pumped out at volume, and sold at extortionate prices. They will almost certainly have no real value in future. It is an inauthentic authenticity.

At the moment I’m more likely to find joy in charity shops and on Discogs than in my nearest independent record shop, which is packed to the rafters with Oasis records and the like.

Mixmag have taken a look at the trends, and ask if the vinyl resurgence is really helping dance music? You could ask the same question about all independent music.

When a revived interest in vinyl first became apparent, the cogs of capitalism began turning, and now the significant rise in sales is the effect of major labels shipping huge quantities of Pink Floyd and The Beatles reissues, Ed Sheeran albums, and Blockbuster film soundtracks.

Record Store Day is coming up next month. But it’s worth noting that, while the intent of the day was to celebrate independent labels, now “majors have stuck their claws in and co-opted the day to flog old hat reissues at jacked up prices.”

Even though I recently bought a record player, I find myself thinking twice before buying vinyl at the moment, precisely because the inflated demand is leading to it becoming overpriced.

Something else I wasn’t aware of until reading the Mixmag article was how limited the capacity of pressing plants is. The flood of major vinyl releases is squeezing smaller labels out of even getting their records pressed.

And it’s not just the really big labels who are at it. Is a 12″ single with one A side and one B side really worth £11? I was going to buy such a single until I saw the price.

Most newly-released CD albums can be picked up for about £8. That might not be as fashionable or romantic as the lavishly packaged 180g vinyl, but it’s definitely better value for money.

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