Tech Transformers

Sony returns to vinyl records with Japanese factory launch

Key Points
  • Sony Music is to resume vinyl production in Japan after three decades.
  • The factory will become the just the second vinyl producing factory in the region.
  • Production is due to begin in the first quarter of 2018.
A vinyl LP for 'Dark Side of the Moon' by Pink Floyd
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sony Music is moving the needle on the way it produces music as demand for vinyl records continues to grow in Asia.

From early-2018, the global record label is to resume in-house vinyl production at a Japanese factory in Tokyo.

The launch marks almost three decades since the firm's Japanese arm ceased production of the black plastic record in 1989 to replace it with the then increasingly popular CD.

During this decades-long lull, many vinyl factories were forced to close as the age of large, physical records appeared to have ended amid evolving technology. However, the old classic has since enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and, according to Deloitte, is set to become a $1 billion industry in the coming years.

Young people look through vinyl records.
Andrew Cowie | AFP | Getty Images

Since 2010, sales of vinyls have grown almost eight-fold from 105,000 to 799,000 in 2016, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan. In this same period, the sale of CDs in Japan has dropped by around 25 percent. Meanwhile, data from the U.S.'s Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) shows total LP and EP revenues in the U.S. have risen from $88.9 million in 2010 to $429.7 million in 2016.

Sony's new factory will become just the second active vinyl pressing house in the region, alongside Toyokasei, which Sony hopes will place it in a good position to respond to customer demand.

"In response to demand for production, we will contribute to the expansion of the analog (vinyl) record and music package market," the company said in a press release translated via Google.

Recently, Sony has been doubling down on its traditionally strong business areas, such as audio and gaming, while simultaneously slim lining and trying to make profitable some of its more challenging products, for example its mobile phone unit.

Initially it is anticipated that the records produced will be primarily older Japanese reissues, which will mainly be sold within Japan – though some newer albums will also be produced, according to reports from Nikkei Asian Review.

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