Is Record Store Day just a rip-off exploiting collectors?

Vinyl could soon overtake download sales, figures shows, as music fans across Britain queue to snap up exclusive releases on Record Store Day.
Vinyl sales are at a 25-year-high. Picture: Ian RutherfordVinyl sales are at a 25-year-high. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Vinyl sales are at a 25-year-high. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The vinyl revival, with sales surpassing the 3m mark last year, will be celebrated at more than 230 UK stores on Saturday, when 500 new releases, ranging from David Bowie to cult obscurities, will hit racks.

Vinyl overtook music download revenues for a week ahead of last Christmas and the reversal could soon be permanent.

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The BPI said that vinyl, which has hit a 25 year high, currently accounts for 15% of physical album turnover.

The vinyl market is now worth 50% of the album download market, or more than 60% of the value of single track downloads.

Sir Elton John, named Record Store Day ambassador, who reissues a 1970 live album for the event, said vinyl simply “sounds better” than CDs or streaming music.

Reading the accompanying sleeve notes with an album, enhances the experience, he argued.

However vinyl accounts for less than 3% of the total music market, which is relying on digital streaming for a permanent revival.

Record Store Day has itself been accused of exploiting collectors.

Fans are willing to pay high prices for limited edition versions of released by The Beatles, David Bowie, Prince and U2, produced by major record labels.

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Many of the purchases will never be removed from their dust jackets.

The event was launched a decade ago to boost struggling independent record stores and small labels releasing vinyl.

Cult items among the 2017 releases include a Fawlty Towers picture disc, Test Card Grooves from Chichester Hospital Radio and a compilation album showcasing “Nigeria’s Romance with Country Music.”

• This article first appeared in our sister title, i