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Release on vinyl, why bother
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Author Release on vinyl, why bother
razzkazz
Hi All

I am sure there might be discussions on the web about this but I am asking here as it's specific to what we do.

My question is, if I am recording/editing/mixing/mastering in the digital domain what's the point releasing on vinyl as it will have a different frequency response and dynamic range and as such it will not reproduce my creation as I hear it after mixing/mastering.

I actually have a couple of thousand vinyl records and have released on vinyl in the past, but only digital now. I'm not interested in the fetish element, I am a sound engineer also and do mastering. It's just that I often see artists who create music using modulars (or any equipment for that matter) release it on vinyl. So why do it? Or is it still about marketing and such? On that last point, anything I released on vinyl sold much better that digital. Is that the answer to my question wink

Thanks
Alan
listentoaheartbeat
Some related discussion here:

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=181511
rauch
i think it really depends on the style of music and uhm the target group. i observed that older more experienced people with a more distinct taste for music, who maybe even are producers or djs, do still prefer vinyl. it's just more valuable and appreciated. all the music i buy is on vinyl. i listen on youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp, etc but i rarely buy digital. and most music i listen to is still released on vinyl.
ActionMaxVA
In todays world its not practical. If you have an audience that will buy enough to make it profitable then for sure.
For me it still sounds the best as far as playback quality but that has taken a decent investment in a good preamp and MC cart.
I have not compared a record directly to mix on CD that I know was all digital. Sounds like a fun shootout.
It would also depend on the vinyl production process as there are so many steps where quality come or go.
razzkazz
Thanks for the replies. Yeah I agree, there's a perception about vinyl being (or is) a better package, it also lasts longer, it's an investment. I think for some genres, or buying public it doesn't matter, but I will generalise and say the music we produce is niche. When I did buy records on a regular basis I felt more connected to the music scene, going to the store, listening to the limited selection of new releases they had that week. Im not taking ancient history, just a decade ago. My focus is more production now, and I find I listen to /consume less music

But from a purely objective, analytical approach I don't think vinyl sounds or reproduces your music better. That's an argument in itself but goes back to my original statement wink

@listentoaheartbeat thanks for the link to that article, very relevant to me right now smile
felixer
razzkazz wrote:
I'm not interested in the fetish element.
On that last point, anything I released on vinyl sold much better that digital. Is that the answer to my question wink

vinyl is fetish: the need to hold something in your hand, nice big coverart etc. it is def not about hifi. and yes there is a group that buys vinyl almost irrelevant what music it contains. there is a mag here called 'vinyl kultur'.
it is not about music really ...
rhythmdial
I don't think fetish is all or always the reason for vinyl

for me its great to have an actual item, in my hands and for the memory of taking to play at gigs and sharing with people. taking in the artwork and the etchings, its all so real world instead of the digital releases that only exist in the moment they are played, with no sizable presence in my/the world otherwise.

I play new and old vinyl together, at work, at home, for radio shows and playing out, its my preference by far to have something tangible and memorable.
The Goob
As a listener, the format helps me separates music from the world of computers, smartphones, and cars and forces an aspect of focus onto the listening experience. Sometimes that is what I am looking for, sometimes not.

I know people who are into vinyl more for the collector aspect. Because of that compulsion to curate a collection, those people are probably more likely to spend their disposable income on recorded music, which could explain why your vinyl releases sold well.
Michael O.
You answered it yourself: because vinyl actually sells. Last year records outsold digital downloads. With the general trend towards streaming music digital sales have dwindled while vinyl's sales numbers have increased.
eltrasgu
felixer wrote:
razzkazz wrote:
I'm not interested in the fetish element.
On that last point, anything I released on vinyl sold much better that digital. Is that the answer to my question wink

vinyl is fetish: the need to hold something in your hand, nice big coverart etc. it is def not about hifi. and yes there is a group that buys vinyl almost irrelevant what music it contains. there is a mag here called 'vinyl kultur'.
it is not about music really ...

it's about being more lo-fi actually and if holding a nice cover is a fetish listening to music is a fetish too
felixer
rhythmdial wrote:
its my preference by far to have something tangible and memorable.

that's fetish ... for the music you could be happy with a download.
felixer
Michael O. wrote:
You answered it yourself: because vinyl actually sells. Last year records outsold digital downloads. With the general trend towards streaming music digital sales have dwindled while vinyl's sales numbers have increased.

in real numbers or in money? because vinyl is much more expensive then downloads.
Michael O.
felixer wrote:
Michael O. wrote:
You answered it yourself: because vinyl actually sells. Last year records outsold digital downloads. With the general trend towards streaming music digital sales have dwindled while vinyl's sales numbers have increased.

in real numbers or in money? because vinyl is much more expensive then downloads.


All too true, I'm referring to the revenue. If the dissemination of music is the only goal then actually selling (vs. licensing) music is probably not the best route in 2017 regardless of medium.
LoFi Junglist
The Goob wrote:
As a listener, the format helps me separates music from the world of computers, smartphones, and cars and forces an aspect of focus onto the listening experience. Sometimes that is what I am looking for, sometimes not.


I know for some people putting on a record can be a ritual. Far from a simple double click the process is drawn out, slows them down and builds the anticipation; The care a piece is taken out of the sleeve, the way its handled as it's put onto the platter, a carbon brush swept across the surface, triggering the automated tonearm. The process sets the mood, like a tea ceremony.

I think vinyl sales have too many factors to really summarise into one statement that can answer the OP. People collect for many reasons, some driven by nostalgia, some driven by ego, some purely to support the artist (as with t-shirt sales, you can enjoy a huge profit margin on some releases).

There are still some communities that mix with wax, the art of turntablism isn't dead (probably thanks to serato), and playing a set with real records isn't something limited to nostaligic old djs. I've seen people in their 20's doing it (although again the ego/prestige thing prob has something todo with their motivation), ordering or cutting dubs, and then producing amazing Jungle and Breakbeat live sets.

I know some people that have lost money on production runs, but still do it for the fun, and some people that have done it purely for the extra cash they'll get producing 'collectors items' (and holding back some for discogs/ebay).

I really think it's too easy for some people to put Vinyl in the same novelty/fetish/nostalgia class as tape releases, when really the vinyl scene is more varied and complex.
umma gumma
this is an interesting question

I got into vinyl & turntables a couple years ago. mainly to get true analog copies of some great albums of the past

I spent a lot of time up until 3-4am, going back and forth between CD & hires digital, and different pressings, trying to figure everything out

of course I discovered there are so many different mastered versions, and pressing versions, and digital versions....and then there is all the subjectivity of what the physical playback gear is ( for both digital and vinyl )

I can see it being a rabbit hole for the OCD...

In the end I decided vinyl can sound really damn good, if you get a good pressing and it's clean, and quiet. Surface noise really is the achilles heal of vinyl

Maybe it's psychosomatic, because I need to actually pay attention when listening to vinyl: it actively forces me to focus on the music vs throwing a CD in on repeat. This may be a positive/subjective byproduct of the "ritual" aspect

I am undecided about releasing digital recordings on vinyl. Especially with synth music, which can have a lot of low end. and surely gets rolled off when prepping a vinyl master (?? )

I do like the physicality of holding a record, and being able to actually read liner notes, and admire the cover art!!

I also prefer driving a standard gearshift, even though with all the computer aids in performance cars, they are technically faster.

what does it all mean?
gruebleengourd
I used to buy vinyl when 1) it was the only way to get particular tracks *(especially for dance music) and 2) there were record stores around I could go to and browse. and 3) when new records were maybe $18 not $35 like they are today.

I have a huge collection, and I'm not about to sell it, but I only buy maybe 1 or two releases a year on record, and only something that I want to have as a collectible.

DJing with digital is the norm now, all the tracks are available by dl. Bandcamp has replaced record stores for me. I don't have storage space for more vinyl, already have >1000 records...

I only buy digital now. Sometimes a CD if it's a japanese import that's not otherwise available.

I don't even listen to the records I have on vinyl, but on tapes I recorded from the record.

There was a window in time when vinyl wasn't the dominant medium, but it was the best for a lot of styles of music. I guess if I was collecting 45s it would be different. But I just see little additional value today in getting 12" or LP release of something that is not really special.

Records are special... but it's incredibly sad to me that they outsell digital releases. Pretty much means to me that people don't want to buy music. They want to buy lifestyle objects.
Yeggman
umma gumma wrote:

Especially with synth music, which can have a lot of low end. and surely gets rolled off when prepping a vinyl master (?? )



All the vinyl-only DJs playing dub techno would prove otherwise hihi

Vinyl can go really low actually, like sub-audio-frequencies. It would depend mostly on how good / motivated the mastering engineer is to make it work, and also you have to pay attention to the mix differently to make sure things sit right.

John Dent talks about the material possibilities of vinyl sound reproduction at length in these videos:

http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/lectures/john-dent-extreme-makeover

http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/lectures/john-dent-2006


gruebleengourd wrote:

DJing with digital is the norm now, all the tracks are available by dl. Bandcamp has replaced record stores for me.


Digital DJing probably is the norm now, but it's definitely not true that all tracks are available for download. Loads and loads of stuff, especially dance music from Europe, are released as limited vinyl-only pressings.
gruebleengourd
Yeggman wrote:

Digital DJing probably is the norm now, but it's definitely not true that all tracks are available for download. Loads and loads of stuff, especially dance music from Europe, are released as limited vinyl-only pressings.


Sure and there are as many digital only edits and tracks that will never see vinyl. And people do get digital copies of those exclusive vinyl tracks *somehow*

Records are cool, and that's pretty much the whole of it.
The Grump
I can think of several reasons, but first one has to let go of the idea that they will be mastering their own tracks. Putting out vinyl is a pricey undertaking so people tend to hold the material to a higher standard. It's a more significant investment of time and resources than simply clicking Save As and Upload. Thus, tighter quality control, even before being mastered and cut. One has to sell a certain quantity just to cover pressing costs, so it is generally assumed that at least someone thought highly enough of the material that they could do so.

Mastering for vinyl is no easy task, and most reputable cutting engineers have both better gear and better ears than we mere mortals, so that's usually a significant factor in why people assume vinyl sounds better. If you've made a press-worthy track, why skimp on the mastering? In terms of dynamcs and clarity, a 24/96 file through good converters will hold more and cleaner sonic information than vinyl can, but unless it's mastered as well, it won't sound as good, and most folks aren't willing to fork out for that kind of talent in the digital realm.

Any sort of nonsense about vinyl being a superior medium because it's analog is just that: nonsense.

My $0.02.
scrunday
I think the media you release your music on greatly depends on your goal(s). Vinyl is still a break-even-at-best medium, right? There are few utilitarian-minded reasons to release on vinyl these days.

On the other hand, vinyl is an oft-demanded medium by audiophiles and collectors (die-hard fans), who might be your most influential/vocal audience. It could be unwise to alienate those segments by not providing them with their preferred medium for your music.

One other way to look at it; digital is a commodity. No matter how good or bad your music is, if it's in someone's digital collection, it's not unique. It's as easy to access or ignore as a ton of other digital files.

Vinyl, and other physical media, are artifacts. They are less a commodity as the digital file. Someone may proudly display a favorite LP in their home, potentially capturing the attention of friends, etc. This is not going to happen with a digital album.
Yeggman
gruebleengourd wrote:
Yeggman wrote:

Digital DJing probably is the norm now, but it's definitely not true that all tracks are available for download. Loads and loads of stuff, especially dance music from Europe, are released as limited vinyl-only pressings.


Sure and there are as many digital only edits and tracks that will never see vinyl. And people do get digital copies of those exclusive vinyl tracks *somehow*

Records are cool, and that's pretty much the whole of it.


oh for sure - it's probably best to use both mediums really.

records are cool though cool
umma gumma
well, whenever I get around to recording some of my stuff, I'm releasing it on vinyl
felixer
Yeggman wrote:

Vinyl can go really low actually, like sub-audio-frequencies.

yeah, but at the expense of the signal-noise ratio. and you need wide grooves, so the time you can put on a side is diminished. hence the 12" single. besides, cutting such a record is problematic. no many will take the risk on their precious cuttingstone ...
renasent
gruebleengourd wrote:
I used to buy vinyl when 1) it was the only way to get particular tracks *(especially for dance music) and 2) there were record stores around I could go to and browse. and 3) when new records were maybe $18 not $35 like they are today.

I have a huge collection, and I'm not about to sell it, but I only buy maybe 1 or two releases a year on record, and only something that I want to have as a collectible.

DJing with digital is the norm now, all the tracks are available by dl. Bandcamp has replaced record stores for me. I don't have storage space for more vinyl, already have >1000 records...

I only buy digital now. Sometimes a CD if it's a japanese import that's not otherwise available.

I don't even listen to the records I have on vinyl, but on tapes I recorded from the record.

There was a window in time when vinyl wasn't the dominant medium, but it was the best for a lot of styles of music. I guess if I was collecting 45s it would be different. But I just see little additional value today in getting 12" or LP release of something that is not really special.

Records are special... but it's incredibly sad to me that they outsell digital releases. Pretty much means to me that people don't want to buy music. They want to buy lifestyle objects.


Great post.

I totally agree with everything you said.

I have been buying vinyl since the early eighties and have recently got rid of a ton (quite literally) of vinyl, to the local plastics recycling facility.

The elephant in the room here is that vinyl degrades over time. My oldest records were now so badly scratched that you could hardly call them hifi anymore. Just the act of playing them degrades them and for god sake don't actually touch them!

Of the oldest, the only ok sounding ones are all 12" singles, with one track per side.

Buying vinyl is basically only going to sound vaguely hifi for the first play. From that point they are just fading slowly into noise.

Anyone who has done a/b comparisons of brand new vinyl on a nice deck, vs digital of the same track knows which sounds better - or they are kidding themselves - or they just like less definition.

People release on vinyl because there is money to be made doing it, and because they are releasing a physical item.
GrantB
If your records are audibly degrading from play... yer doin it wrong
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