Vinyl records get into groove with own charts

Rock-led record-buying revival leads Official Charts Company to begin top 40 singles and albums countdowns from Monday

In 2007, as the ascent of digital music continued, scratchy, unportable records seemed to be spinning into oblivion, accounting for 0.1% of UK album sales – equating to just 205,000 LPs.

But eight years on, a vinyl revival appears to be complete with the announcement of official weekly charts dedicated to the format that will count down the top 40 best-selling singles (including both 7in and 12in formats) and albums.

In a remarkable turnaround, sales have surged in recent years to the point where album sales this year could hit 10 times the numbers at the end of the noughties, prompting recognition from the Official Charts Company. Singles sales are also up, by around a quarter over the same period last year.

Gennaro Castaldo, of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), said: “With sales of vinyl albums at their highest level since the heady days of Britpop, and growing, the introduction of an official vinyl chart at this time makes perfect sense.

“The chart will not only help us to better understand which artists and type of music are driving this resurgence, but will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally engaged, fans as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”

The charts will officially launch on Monday, ahead of Saturday’s Record Store Day, an annual event celebrating independent stores that was introduced in 2008. The event has been credited with helping to boost vinyl sales, the rise of which has in turn helped save independent record shops that once seemed on the verge of extinction.

In 1996 sales of vinyl albums dipped under one million, a figure they would not attain again until last year. Initially, dance music DJs, who mixed with records, were credited with keeping the format alive, but as they began embracing digital mixers, sales reached a nadir in 2007.

Noel Gallagher’s band High Flying Birds had both the best-selling vinyl single and album in the first three months of 2015.
Noel Gallagher’s band High Flying Birds had both the best-selling vinyl single and album in the first three months of 2015. Photograph: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

The boost to sales in recent years, which really gathered pace in 2013 when sales of 780,000 doubled the previous year’s total, has been largely down to rock music.

Official Charts Company data shows Noel Gallagher’s band High Flying Birds had both the best-selling vinyl single and album in the first three months of the year, with Ballad Of The Mighty I and Chasing Yesterday, respectively. Others in the charts include Arctic Monkeys, The War on Drugs, and rock veterans Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, although Mark Ronson also makes the singles top 10 with Uptown Funk.

Elements of vinyl associated with its revival include the physical experience it offers in playing and the fact that many people simply prefer the sound, so it is not just the nostalgic older generation doing the buying.

Alex Gaskarth, frontman of Baltimore pop-punk band All Time Low, midweek leaders on the official albums chart who are also on track to claim one of the biggest-selling vinyl records of the week, said: “What I love is there are different worlds of vinyl fans: there’s the audiophiles who swear by the sound of vinyl, the people who like owning it as a collector’s piece, and then groups like our fans who buy a vinyl of our record simply so they can hang it on their wall.”

As well as helping independent record stores, the increased demand for vinyl has also proved an unexpected boon for manufacturers of turntables, who have seen the sales of their products surge accordingly.

Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “With vinyl album sales up by almost 70% already this year, vinyl junkies could well have snapped up 2m units by the end of this year – an extraordinary number if you consider sales were one-tenth of that just six years ago. This growth underlines the continuing resurgence of this much-loved format, whether you’re a fan of Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher, Led Zeppelin or David Bowie.”


Haroon Siddique

The GuardianTramp

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