Today’s consumers have access to an increasingly wide array of vehicles for music consumption, including cds, digital downloads, and online playlists. They can easily transport music with electronic devices, taking it on the go with greater convenience and efficiency than ever before. Listening to music at home is even becoming easier with new technology like Bluetooth speakers that sync with smartphones.
As consumers and businesses interact in a market that is constantly focused on smarter, faster, and more compact devices, it is counterintuitive to think that vinyl records would be in high demand. After being rejected for their bulkiness and inefficiency, records appeared to be a thing of the past, forgotten along with the floppy disk and the Walkman.
However, as the music industry becomes more technologically advanced, there has been a movement backwards towards vinyl records. People are listening to vintage records and artists are releasing new music on a variety of mediums including special edition vinyls.
For example, Jack White just released an album on vinyl. The album, entitled Lazaretto, reached number one on the Billboard 200 and of the 138,000 albums sold, vinyl LPs made up 29% of the first week sales, following CDs (30%), and downloads (41%).
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Just picked up the “Ultra LP” version of Jack White’s – Lazaretto – on vinyl. Really creative, innovative record. Love it.
— Josh Ballard (@JoshBallard13) June 17, 2014
Other musical groups and artists have released remastered albums, adding new features like interviews and never released songs. Led Zeppelin released a set of albums earlier this month and The Beatles have a vinyl box set due out this fall.
While interest in vinyl records appears to be increasing, sales indicate that album sales are experiencing an overall decline. The music industry must compete with numerous online music streaming platforms like Youtube and Pandora and combat illegal downloads. Can record sales boost these numbers?
A preliminary analysis of who is talking about vinyl records and what they are saying will expose vinyl’s role in an increasingly fast-paced industry. Social media offers music labels and retailers a wealth of information that can be used to accurately measure the increasing influence of vinyl records as well as a variety of other factors. Over the past year alone there have been roughly 1.5 million relevant Tweets written about vinyl records, making 6.2 billion potential impressions.
Interestingly, the top @ mention is @youtube with over 26,000 mentions, followed by @Amazon with over 8,000 mentions. The popularity of these profiles suggests that the vinyl record audience is sharing online content as well as information about their online purchases.
Building a Drivers of Sentiment Monitor offers in-depth insights into what people are actually saying about vinyl records. The majority of the conversation is positive at 59% and most people are talking about wanting to buy vinyl records. Interestingly, people discussing the higher sound quality of vinyl only make up 6% of the conversation. The conversation surrounding remastered records outweighs the discussion of vintage albums which may be influenced by the hype surrounding their release.
The negative conversation comments on the association that has formed between vinyl records and hipster culture. Others discuss the cost of vinyl records and surprisingly few people have trouble finding records.
While it is evident that people are talking about vinyl records and are interested in purchasing them, it is still unclear if this is a passing trend. Skeptics question the strength of the vinyl movement. This is evident in the conversation about hipsters, a group that has latched onto records in addition to other nostalgia-inducing technologies like the Polaroid camera.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does a hipster buy its album? No, he buys the vinyl.
— Atanvarno (@czarburciaga) January 8, 2014
While hipster culture may contribute to the conversation surrounding records, Crimson Hexagon’s Affinities exposes the true diversity of the vinyl audience.
Not surprisingly, indie music is the music genre that is most strongly associated with the vinyl record conversation, those in the discussion were 36 times more likely to be interested in it than the general Twitter audience.
In addition to a strong interest in indie music, people discussing vinyls are also more likely to be interested many other music genres than the general Twitter audience. For instance, vinyl fans were 10 times more likely to be interested in dubstep and punk rock, 8 times more interested in metal, soul music, and jazz, and 2 times more interested in hip hop, R&B, and rock. The wide array of music genres suggests that there is a diverse group of music lovers who are involved in the vinyl discussion.
Although a broad range of musical tastes are present, not all musical artists are discussed. The American indie rock band Superchunk was extremely popular, the vinyl record audience was 299 times more likely to be interested in the group than the general Twitter audience. In contrast, the people discussing vinyl records are ¼ as likely to be interested in Miley Cyrus and ½ as likely to be interested in Justin Bieber than the general Twitter audience.
There are also a melangé of brands that the vinyl record audience is interested in. Vinyl fans are 21 times more likely to be interested in Beatport, an online music store that specializes in electronic music than the general Twitter audience. They are also 12 times more likely to be interested in Ebay and 3 times more likely to be interested in Amazon than the general Twitter audience. Both sites offer users the opportunity to shop for new and used vinyl records.
Vinyl fans are also 9 times more likely to be interested in Soundcloud, an online audio distribution platform, and 26 times more likely to be interested in internet radio than the general Twitter audience. Two applications that influence album sales.
— Jim Wilson (@JimWilson45) May 9, 2013
Building off of data collected from album sales, social media analysis consumer interests in vinyl records. Consumer conversation paired with Affinities allows for an in-depth analysis of the topics of conversation and the interests of participants. It appears as though music lovers are interested in records for improved sound quality and a bit of nostalgia. With new and used albums available online, consumers have increased access to their favorite vinyls that range from dubstep to soul music.
Musicians, record companies, and retailers can understand consumer demands by delving into consumer conversation via social media. They can then offer the right products at the right prices and successfully compete in a market increasingly influenced by digital downloads and online music platforms.
For more insights into how consumer entertainment preferences are evolving, check out this free report: The Future of Home Entertainment