In the age of streaming and downloading, why are vinyl record sales suddenly on the rise? What does this rise teach us as marketers?
First, a quick reminder:
Vinyl Record (noun) — A record (phonograph record in American English) or vinyl record, commonly known as a "record", is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat polyvinyl chloride (previously shellac) disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.
Vinyl's Resurgence Exists Because of Crowded Competition
Nevermind the compact disk or the 8 track, the vinyl funeral song was seemingly sung with the arrival of digital music. First came Napster, then the iPod and iTunes, followed by Spotify, Apple Music, and even the infamous flop that was and is Tidal. A world of music at your fingertips, streaming across any device, anywhere, anytime, through any number of slick platforms. All of this surely signaled the fact that a big, pressed disc that required turning, needles, and expensive high fidelity equipment, was not only outdated but unwanted.
Yet, vinyl sales are skyrocketing.
Creators of Experiential marketing and live events are witnessing a similar resurgence. Amidst the swirl of scattered consumer attention, fueled by multi-platform content and cross-screen advertising efforts, consumers are conjuring an affinity for the unplugged, physicality of experiential. Sights, sounds fueled by touch and taste, experiential marketing is a welcome respite from the loud and crowded world of online advertising.
Vinyl Collections Are a Physical Testament to Taste
Musical affinity provides a window to the soul, an instant indicator of taste and affinity that speaks to geography, upbringing and station. To flip through a stranger’s record collection is to sort through through their mind, a catalog of distinct moments in time in which they decided to purchase, and subsequently listen to, a collection of music that they deemed imperative in some primal way. The album art is an extension of the music, and the visual layout projects an aesthetic that accompanies the sounds.
If you hang out around any festival, be it Coachella or SXSW, you’ll see droves of fans displaying their wristbands as a physical testament to taste, long after the lights go out and the days wane on. These “wearable receipts” are a physical testament to taste, art-directed and color-coded catalogs that say “I was there, man.”
Experiential marketing provides users and fans with a badge to be worn, shared, and displayed openly, a behavior that is found nowhere else in advertising or marketing.
A Record Is a Complete Thing
Albums are a thing of the past. Singles, playlists, music videos, and the A.D.D. tinged DNA of streaming services has unraveled the term “album” and reduced it to the sum of its parts.
A vinyl record on the other hand, reconstructs the album, placing the music back in its original, intended form. Tracks are unable to skipped, the music follows a chronological arrangement of moods and sounds, expertly composed and placed by the artist and producer.
A vinyl album re-establishes the artists and the producers as the directors of the listening experience, giving the listener the luxury of having their power to change this arrangement removed completely, allowing them to kick back and just listen.
Vinyl Respects Art
Vinyl provides superior sound quality, a point that’s constantly voiced by audiophiles the world over. Paired with the tube amplifiers of a high fidelity speaker system, the physical resonance of a needle on wax remains a tried and true product that stands the test of time despite digital mediums.
Vinyl also gives back to the artist, a notion that seems so archaic in 2015 that its simplicity requires a moment to take in. The artists and their labels receive 100% of the sale profits, removing all streaming intermediaries typically inserted into today’s musical exchanges.
A successful Experiential campaign removes all the fuss and ritual typically associated with today’s marketing. The big loud taglines, the agency-approved elements, they all take a backseat to the experience.
This is why artists, inventors, and innovators are often the cornerstone of today’s experiential marketing. The Vice Creators Project. Moogfest. These are examples of contemporary brands leveraging artists and creators to bring some semblance of integrity back to the world of marketing, and using experiential to do so.
Vinyl Reminds You That Value and Price Don't Always Correlate
Napster was the advent of “free music,” a notion that shocked the world and shook the music industry to its core. Who would have guessed that 15 years later, we would be paying $9 to $15 dollars a month to essentially rent music from streaming services? This is a reminder that price and experience do not always correlate. We pay more for the user experience provided to us by Spotify. And subsequently, we pay even more for a limited edition copy of Cheap Trick’s “Live at Budokan” because the value of this record lies in its rarity, its experience and testament to our taste.
Experiential marketing firms don’t enjoy the same plush margins as digital and creative agencies. Experiential campaigns require staffing, production, fabrication and a number of other costs that most advertising and marketing efforts never touch upon. Despite the costs incurred by these agencies, we see experiential marketing firms popping up all over. The value of providing an experience doesn’t always correlate to the cost, but brands and advertisers who see this value pursue it regardless.
Vinyl Is an Experience
Vinyl is an experience. From flipping through the bins at a local record shop, to unwrapping the plastic and feeling the warm grooves beneath your fingertips as you delicately drop the needle onto the record and listen to the artist's arrangement, vinyl’s resurgence is a direct effect of the experience it provides.
This is why we’re excited to offer our Experiential and Live Events offering here at Digital Surgeons. We know that to be human is to have experiences, and that despite the amazing leaps and bounds in today’s digital landscape, the human experience, the stimulation of the senses; sight, sound, hearing, taste and touch, to tell a story, will always be the cornerstone of our efforts as marketers.
So drop the needle, give us a ring. We’d love to tell you how we can create the event that gives your consumer the experience they crave.