CD sales are down but record sales are up. Vinyl, long written off by the industry as obsolete, has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts over the last several years, with vinyl sales on the increase, steadily building in momentum over the past few years. In 2007 there was an estimated 15% increase in sales of new records just from the year before.
And it's not just DJs who are buying records these days. Nor is it just fans of hip-hop/rap and electronic/dance music -- the two genres most associated with vinyl -- but fans of other types of music, including different sub-genres of rock and experimental, among other genres. Additionally a lot of music fans, especially young fans who are tired of MP3s, are discovering the superior warmer analog audio quality of vinyl pressings -- be it on a 7" single or full-length 12" album.
In some cases artists or labels are pressing up vinyl-only releases, often as a way to beat the current rampant free-downloading of MP3 files. But even with a lot of vinyl releases, the record label includes free MP3s such with the new Cornelius vinyl copy of his Gum 12" EP on Everloving/Warner which comes with a printed card in its jacket containing information on the link to MP3 versions of the same songs on the vinyl just purchased.
"A lot of people appreciate the whole aesthetic of vinyl. There is something permanent about the LP format that they really like. With MP3's, even with CDs, there is a disposability with the format," offered Chris Curtis of Hollywood Amoeba Music, where he is a vinyl point person between the floor and warehouse -- overseeing many smaller genres but getting a good overall grasp of the state of vinyl in 2008 with music fans. "To kids that were born after 1990, the LP was dead," said Chris, "but you see a lot of kids coming in to buy vinyl. I think there is a certain coolness connected with it."
Luna is in town shooting Gus Van Sant's upcoming Harvey Milk biopic, Milk. In addition to Luna, it's also reported to star the likes of Sean Penn and James Franco. I've seen them filming up and down Castro St. recently. The street has been lined with old cars and camera equipment. That movie will be Oscar bait next year, no doubt.
If you haven't already checked it out, now is the time to see the amazing documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. It is a phenomenal, moving film. I'm extremely interested to see just how Van Sant thinks he can top it with a fictionalized scripted film. I will have to revisit The Times of Harvey Milk myself before Milk is out.