KATRINA CROSBY WRITES – Everyone can recognize that signature disk — its circular shape with its slight grooves and its deep black color. The vinyl record, in all its glory, is a true musical phenomenon. Generations old and young acknowledge it as the pinnacle of music platforms. While older folks find it a nostalgic reminder of their youth, younger listeners claim the sound is simply more authentic. It comes as no surprise why Sony Music Industries will be reopening its vinyl production facilities in Japan next spring.
In 1989, Sony shelved its vinyl operations because of the growing popularity of the compact disc. Young adults and teens gravitated towards the smaller, more durable, digital alternative. With the CD’s rise to fame, vinyls became a bulkier waste of space, ending the industry for decades.
Nevertheless, vinyls are making their comeback. While CD sales have recently dropped by approximately 25%, the Recording Industry Association of Japan has reported rising sales of vinyl records within the country. From 2010 to 2016, there has been an increase in the hundreds of thousands of vinyl record purchases, which is a pattern also seen in the United States and Europe.
Sony Music Japan’s CEO Michinori Mizuno has noted the trend. “A lot of young people buy songs that they (first) hear and love on streaming services.” More and more young people now want to own a permanent, physical copy of their favorite music. Currently, Toyo Kasei is the only other competitor for Sony Music Japan that presses its own vinyl records. With so little competition, it gives Sony an advantage to create the highest profit possible. Additionally, Mark Mulligan, a musicm industry analyst, believes, “vinyl is a market that will keep growing – even now globally there’s not enough capacity for making vinyl to meet the demand.”
The only problem facing the music industry with regards to the production of vinyl records is the lack of experienced technicians to make them. Anouk Rijnders, a sales manager for The Record Industry, Europe’s top vinyl pressing plant, states, “Making vinyl is a very delicate process, you need the people and the knowledge to do it.” Since making vinyl has been an abandoned art for so many years, it is more difficult to find people with the desired skill set. With the opening of Sony Music Japan’s operation set to begin in the spring of 2018, it provides an opportunity for the company to work through this hurdle before receiving numerous requests from eager music enthusiasts.
As 2018 approaches, Sony Music Japan has promised vinyls consisting of new singers, as well as reissues of Japanese classics.