The comeback of vinyl records, covered just a half-decade ago as a wacky trend, is now a bona fide business story: vinyl accounted for $182 million in sales in the first half of 2017, according to the RIAA. And although the format represents a small percentage of unit sales, revenue from deluxe packages means that it accounts for 29 percent of revenue from physical retail. So, now that some labels are selling cassettes once again, perhaps it’s time for record clubs -- remember, seven albums for a penny? -- to make a comeback as well.
Universal Music Enterprises, the global catalog division of Universal Music Group, today announced that it’s starting a distinctly digital age version, which will use mobile technology and a recommendation engine to sell directly to consumers. The Sound of Vinyl will sell 20,000 titles, from Universal as well as its competitors, both major and indie. The store includes a significant content operation -- a blog, as well as recommendations from musicians like Henry Rollins, Young Guru and Don Was -- and it will sell limited-edition items as well as standard releases.
“As we were discussing the explosion of interest in vinyl, [UMG executive vp] Michele Anthony hit upon the idea of a record club, but with a very modern approach,” says Universal Music Enterprises (UME) president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff.