Sales of vinyl records are going through the roof, relatively speaking. Around eight million were sold this year — up six million per annum since 2008, two million per annum since last year.
The industry’s capacity to produce vinyl albums has remained relatively flat, however. New pressing plants aren’t being built, nor are new pressing machines, and the supply of old pressing machines that can be refurbished and put back into service is all but exhausted.
Because vinyl sales currently represent only 2% of music sales in America, and because the potential for the vinyl renaissance is unknown, people are not willing to make the large capital investments necessary to expand production.
Hence the looming crisis for vinyl — the rapid expansion of demand for vinyl records is about to be stopped in its tracks by an inability to produce them in greater numbers. In the short term it’s bound to lead to higher and higher prices for LPs, which will in the long term inevitably put an end to the vinyl renaissance, limiting vinyl sales to the small niche market of specialist collectors as it existed twenty years ago.
It’s hard to see a way out of the dilemma.
Thanks to The Wall Street Journal for the information in this post: