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It is easy to get nostalgic for the era when most music lovers bought LPs. They would save their pennies for a Saturday trip to the local record store, before heading home clutching their glorious new vinyl in a plastic bag to drop the needle on the turntable and listen on repeat. This anachronistic ritual will be resurrected on International Record Store Day on Saturday April 13, as consumers queue to buy exclusive limited edition vinyl releases from their favourite artists. Launched a decade ago, this annual event is an industry drive to boost ailing independent record stores in an age when most people stream music online.
But is it actually true that earlier generations placed a greater value on recorded music than music fans in the present day? We are loath to succumb to the mythology of a "golden age" for music and lend credence to baby boomers moaning of bygone days when music somehow mattered more than it does now. We decided to investigate the numbers to see if they told a different story. As it turns out, they do – and it's far worse than we expected.
Research - Music - Consumption - Production - US
We conducted archival research on recorded music consumption and production in the US, comparing the economic and environmental costs of different formats at different times. We found that the price consumers have been willing to pay for the luxury of owning recorded music has changed dramatically.
The price of a phonograph cylinder in its peak year of production in 1907 would be an estimated US$13.88 (£10.58) in today's money, compared to US$10.89 for a shellac disc in its peak year of 1947. A vinyl album in its peak year of 1977, when The Sex Pistols' Never Mind The Bollocks came out, cost US$28.55 in today's money, against US$16.66 for a cassette tape in...
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