How the great vinyl revival has got music fans in a spin
Posted by  badge Boss on Dec 03, 2023 - 01:30PM
Why, in a digitally-oriented age, are we seeing such a surge in the good old-fashioned record? (Picture: Getty)

From rock ‘n’ roll stalwarts the Rolling Stones to pop superstars such a and Lana Del Ray, the vinyl juggernaut is on a return journey – and doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon.

Despite the popularity of streaming services such as Music and , vinyl record sales are soaring.

Last year witnessed the largest volume of sales since 1990 – with 5.5m copies flying off the shelves. While in the first nine months of 2023, that figure increased by over 13% from the previous year, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) with nearly 4million vinyl LPs being sold.

So, why in such a digitally-oriented age are we seeing such a surge in the good old-fashioned record? 

According to a spokesperson for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI): ‘demand for vinyl continues to rise despite many years of growth, driven and the emotional connection it provides with the music they love.’

As a vinyl collector myself, I can advocate that it makes for an entirely different sonic experience listening to my favourite albums. 

From Oasis to Paul Weller, listening to them on vinyl makes for a totally different experience (Picture: Creation Records/Go! Discs)

Whether it’s a remastered edition of The Masterplan, the critically-acclaimed 1998 compilation by Oasis, the highly-anticipated new studio album i/o from Peter Gabriel or an original pressing of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, flicking through my ever-growing record collection is a visual treat reminding me at an immediate glance of the amazing records in my collection.

Perhaps I am romanticising the process, but there’s something infinitely special about pulling out a copy of the colourful Outlandos d’Amour by The Police or Paul Weller’s third solo album Stanley Road, with its instantly recognisable collage paying homage to Weller’s childhood and influences designed by the legendary Sir Peter Blake.

Can you get the same feeling from a static image on a streaming service? I don’t think so and many other collectors of vinyl agree.

Deb McCormick from Chorley in Lancashire says that when it comes to vinyl, there’s no comparison. 

‘The tangible element of holding an album in your hands, looking at the artwork and then  the sound of the needle dropping is absolute perfection,’ she tells

Deb McCormick’s impressive record collection (Picture: Supplied)

With an ever-growing collection of close to 1000 records, Deb fell in love with vinyl thanks to her dad, who sadly died when she was just a child.

‘I have always loved collecting things but vinyl is my biggest love,’ she tells 

‘I got the music bug from my dad and the interest in vinyl came from him, I lost him at a young age so having that connection and nostalgia is a big part of it, even though our music tastes are entirely the opposite.’ 

Deb thinks it’s ‘brilliant’ that there has been such a big revival for the vinyl market and feels that record collectors are enthused by having different variants of the same album which is certainly helping with increased sales of vinyl.

Deb’s dad passed on his love of vinyl to her (Picture: Supplied)

With record shops across the UK and beyond never being busier, after a four-year absence. This decision to return to the brand’s first ever store which opened in 1921 is a significant vote of confidence for physical stores in an increasingly digital age.

The opening ceremony at HMV Oxford Street was led by composer Sir Edward Elgar in 1921, but for the 2023 version it was Camden’s own Madness who also coincidentally drafted in the services of Sir Peter Blake to design the cover of their tenth studio album ‘Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da’.

The record store, famous for its dog and gramophone trademark, left the Oxford Street site four years ago after Canadian music entrepreneur Doug Putman struck a deal to save the firm that was facing bankruptcy which resulted in the closure of 27 stores in prime locations.

Doug bought the chain out of administration in 2019 after years of heavy losses and the flagship branch had been turned into an American sweet store, but the tycoon’s commitment to bringing the iconic brand back to the heart of London was made possible thanks to a 20% reduction in the rent and a halving of business rates.

Doug Putman, the owner of HMV, poses inside the new store (Picture: PA)

‘There’s a real magic to vinyl as a piece of art and in the sound that listening to music on it delivers,’ he tells ‘But there is also a sense of ownership that it brings – of having something that gets you closer to the artist that you love, whose music means something to you and digital files just don’t really give you that.’

He is optimistic about the shopping future of Oxford Street and is keen to see it revitalised and return the store to its glory days when it welcomed live performances and signings from blur, the Spice Girls and Sir Paul McCartney and hopes the shop can have ‘crowds which will shut down the street’.

Music fans from across England flocked to London for its opening on Black Friday to mark the return of the iconic store with some even leaving their homes at the unearthly hour of 3am.  As well as hosting special guests Madness, music fans were also welcomed by Hard-Fi, The Reytons, Rachel Chinouriri and Baby Queen, when the shutters opened at 11.30am. 

One Londoner, Ian Sedon, told that he felt shoppers needed a shopping experience worth going offline for.

Members of the public queue up outside the new HMV store eager to get a glimpse inside (Picture: PA)

‘I’m pleased HMV is back because it’s where it should be,’ he said. ‘I’d always feel the need to go in when I walked past and pick up records or albums. It’s all about the experience and what a store can do that online can’t – that’s what we need to see more of today.’

With its rich history and new layout, HMV is set to become the largest entertainment store in London and is expected to draw appearances and album signings by renowned musicians to its ‘purpose-built performance floor’ where acts can play live. As well as having a floor dedicated to pop culture merchandise, there will also be an entire floor dedicated to vinyl records.

However, it’s not just the big guns that are seeing an increased appetite for vinyl – smaller retailers are benefiting too.

Phil Leigh, the founder of independent online record store Norman Records in Leeds believes that there are a number of factors that have driven the renewed interest in vinyl in recent years. The key thing underpinning it all, he says, is a ‘basic yearning for something tangible and authentic’.

Phil runs independent online record store Norman Records (Picture: Supplied)

While Phil doesn’t deny the variety and convenience of streaming music, he feels that there’s something ‘fundamentally gratifying’ about playing a vinyl record likening it to an ‘an immersive experience rather than a fleeting one’ and how it’s ‘just a fundamentally richer,  more personal way to enjoy music.’

On top of that, by purchasing a physical copy of an album, consumers are helping support the artist, which is particularly key for up-and-coming acts. 

Unless you are a world-famous act, royalties from streaming sites for musicians are paltry to say the least. On average, , which isn’t going to be putting singer-songwriters and bands into a new tax bracket anytime soon.

Vinyl and its resurgence who may not yield high levels of streams making income from touring, merchandise and physical sales vital for making ends meet. 

It’s not just the big guns that are seeing an increased appetite for vinyl – smaller retailers are benefiting too (Picture: Norman Records)

A new report from music distribution company Ditto Music has revealed that musicians need over 730,000 Spotify streams to cover the cost of their 2023 energy bill. Their findings also showed that musicians need to generate approximately 11,713,250 Spotify streams in order to put down the UK average house deposit of £42,250, making the need for supporting artists by purchasing physical copies as important as ever.

In Leeds, Phil also explains that due to demand, it’s now not as straightforward to get a record pressed up and released on vinyl as pressing plants are struggling to keep up with the increased appetite from record collectors. 

Supply and demand along with the cost of the materials have helped contribute towards the increased cost of newly-released vinyl. For example, Lana Del Ray’s Ocean Blvd is the best-selling vinyl album of 2023 so far and will set you back more than £30.

Norman Records biggest seller right now is False Lankum by Irish folk music group Lankum, who the shop has also awarded their Album of the Year award to. 

Phil also reveals that the Kate Bush reissues and the new album by The Smile are also ‘doing very well’. 

Welcoming HMV’s return to Oxford Street, Norman Records founder Phil describes Doug Putman as a ‘true believer in record shops’ and considers him to be a ‘clearly brilliant businessman’ with HMV being as close to ‘music retail royalty as it gets’. 

The resurgence of vinyl sales has largely been attributed to several notable album releases in 2023. From The Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds and Blur’s to Taylor Swift’s Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which was the biggest-selling vinyl release of Q3, Kylie Minogue’s, these artists and LPs have all significantly contributed to the increase in record sales.

Kylie, Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift have all seen vinyl success this year (Picture: BMG/Polydor/Republic Records)

It certainly feels that vinyl is the preferred collector format, as well as the warmer and enhanced sonic experience, it seems that music fans love the tangibility and indeed the collectability of owning a record. 

You could argue that by playing a record that is of something of a ceremonial experience. You have to listen to the record from start to finish, you can’t chop and change between tracks providing a more considered and enriching listening experience.

Phil adds that whilst the older generation are acquiring records for the love of music, the younger generation are buying multiple versions of the same release such as Taylor Swift’s album reissues and are treating it as a piece of merchandise to showcase and own as opposed to buying a record to play it. 

Regardless of your rationale, buying a record is a unique and special experience, according to Norman Records’ Phil.

‘There’s nothing better than bringing a new record home, holding it in your hands and seeing the artwork properly for the first time. There’s just something sublime about it all,’ he explains. 

‘When you think of the human endeavour that’s gone into it, it’s hard not to feel a little bit of awe.

‘Tapping an icon on a tiny lit-up screen? Nah, nowhere near close!’