Vinyl frontier: Old music formats make comeback

Nearly 30 years after their demise at the hands of compact discs and downloads, 20th century music formats the vinyl L.P and cassette tape are staging a gradual comeback.

Vinyl is predicted to sell over 1 million copies in the U.K. in the coming year -- the first time since 1996, according to a recent report by Billboard. It has already exceeded last year's sale of 780,674 sales, reported by the Official Charts Company.

Beats headphones are sold in an Apple store in New York.
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Beats headphones are sold in an Apple store in New York.

U.K. music aficionados aren't alone in getting their hands on these nostalgic goods. Last year, the sales for vinyl in the U.S. saw a 32 percent increase and globally, physical records (CDs, vinyls and cassettes) still made up 51.1 percent of the music revenue in 2013, from reports made by IFPI and Nielson Soundscan.

While sales in cassette tapes aren't stealing the limelight away from CDs and mp3 downloads, a desire to resurrect the cassette tape has increased since 2013.

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Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the cassette, and worldwide people celebrated through Cassette Store Day on September 7th 2013, which saw the release of more than 50 albums in cassette form. So popular was the event that this year's Cassette Store Day had 300 albums on cassette.

Furthermore, an ICM Group survey this year revealed that 1 in 10 young people purchased a cassette tape, the BBC reported.

It's this appeal to younger audiences and shoppers that is behind the resurgence in old-school formats. In 2012, U.K Music Retailer HMV managed to bounce back from a recession problem, by attracting customers by increasing stocks in vinyl.

Independent record labels and artists like Haim, Daft Punk and The National have been releasing their music as a cassette or vinyl L.P.

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Head of Public Relations at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Lynne McDowell said that in a recent poll by BPI, they discovered that in the U.K., 35 to 44 year olds were the largest consumer group, whilst the L.P attracts younger audiences to with over a third aged under 35 (35.3%).

She added that the main reasons that drove vinyl sales were "the enjoyment of the process of playing a record, the quality of sound, and the cover art", demonstrating that people are still "craving tangibility and something with soul."

Since the start of 2014, the U.S has sold 4 million vinyls, whilst the U.K have sold almost 800,000 units. However, digital track sales are still the favorite with the U.S having already bought 593.6 million singles in 2014 (Nielson Soundscan), and the U.K having bought 175.6 million in 2013 (Official Charts Company).

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Hollywood has also played a leading role in promoting nostalgic music formats. The soundtrack to 2014's box office hit Guardians of the Galaxy made great use of 70s and 80s classics, with the soundtrack staying at number one for two weeks in the Billboard 200 charts during this summer.

On Wednesday, Marvel announced they would release an exclusive limited edition of the Guardians of the Galaxy Compilation onto a cassette tape in late November this year.

What's next? The resurgence of the photograph or Polaroid?

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy featured songs from the 1970s and 1980s.