While the major topic of conversation in recent weeks has been if the Covid pandemic has peaked, another phenomenon of recent times is also coming under scrutiny, namely, has the vinyl revival peaked?
Looking at the raw figures, it looks like the demand for vinyl is still on the up, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), sales in 2021 rose above 5 million, up 8% from 2020, and the 14th year in a row that sales have increased.
But I have detected signs that there may be trouble ahead. Demand from record labels on pressing plants mean that lead time on delivery can be up to 12 months at the moment, led by major labels block booking large quantities of their "prestige" new releases, and in doing so, squeezing out many smaller labels, who traditionally request smaller runs of around 1000 copies per title - the temptation for pressing plants to please major labels, giving them priority is understandable - as they said in Spinal Tap: Money talks, and bullshit walks.
But I understand that this strategy is revealing worrying trends in the market. I have heard from an insider that Parlophone pressed up 90,000 copies of the recently released Coldplay album "Music Of The Spheres", and that a mere 3000 have been sold to the public, with the rest gathering dust. The precious capacity of the pressing plant seems to have been used up on a title that had limited appeal to the vinyl buying public.
Coldpay are not alone, up to half a million copies of Adele's "30" are filling the racks and warehouses up and down the land, which will surely result in future new releases being scaled back to more realistic levels.
I of course rely on sales on "new sealed" vinyl to keep sales at Vinylshrine ticking over - but the vast majority of my sales are for so-called classic albums from the likes of Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, The Doors and David Bowie, and budget repackaged titles from labels such as Not Now Music featuring legendary jazz, blues and R&B artists.
My prediction for 2022 and beyond is that due to fast rising costs, the retail prices of vinyl LP's will increase dramatically which will result in more cautious sales - I am hoping that major labels will ease back on their quantities, thus freeing up capacity at the pressing plants and making life easier for everyone.