Left for dead in the 1980s, vinyl records are now the most popular and most profitable physical format in the music industry. However, their production is becoming more and more difficult. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, 17 million vinyl records were sold in the United States in the first six months of this year, generating $467 million in revenue. This is almost double the figure for the same period in 2020, writes The New York Times. Also in the first half of 2021, 16 million CDs were sold, valued at just $ 205 million.
Although physical recordings are now only part of the music business in general, and 84% of revenue comes from streaming services, buying vinyl is also a sign of fan loyalty. However, there are signs that vinyl’s prosperity is being held back by limited industrial capacity where it can be produced. Even well-known performers complain about delays in production. Adele, whose album “30” will be released on November 19, admitted in an interview with BBC Radio that she had to wait longer than she bargained for vinyl to be made.
The vinyl shortage is largely due to the pandemic, which has shut down many factories and disrupted production chains. In addition, this business relies on an aging infrastructure. Most of the machines involved in production date from the 1970s or earlier and can be expensive to maintain. And new machines can cost up to $300,000.