"It was extinct. It was a fad. It was a bubble about to burst. Vinyl has been consigned to the garbage heap of history more than once. Yet it’s still here—and still growing.
But as 2018 begins, the business and culture of vinyl stand at an unlikely juncture. After more than a decade of increasing American sales, vinyl’s comeback is no longer a quirky, look-at-those-hipsters novelty. Instead, the bustling ecosystem of turntables and records is surprisingly close to being mainstream. Last year, vinyl was featured in commercials for insurance companies and arthritis pills. It was on “The Price Is Right.” In November, Jack White was able to describe such once-unlikely crossovers during the millennium’s first vinyl manufacturing conference. At the same time, though, vinyl still represents an infinitesimal slice of the $16 billion global recording industry. Even within the shrinking realm of physical media, only one in 10 new albums sold last year was on vinyl according to one industry report—aside from a negligible smattering of cassettes, the other nine were CDs.
Yet the numbers—and observations from industry insiders—suggest that physical records will probably continue to remain a meaningful and lasting presence in many music lovers’ lives. In the years ahead, vinyl will likely maintain its status as a complement to the impersonality of streaming, a scruffy anachronism consistently hanging out at the margins. As of now, here are the big trends from the world of spinning wax..."
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