As more consumers discover this disconnect, vinyl sales are starting to slow. In the first half of 2015, sales of vinyl records jumped 38% compared to the same period the prior year, to 5.6 million units, Nielsen Music data show. A year later, growth slowed to 12%. This year, sales rose a modest 2%. “It’s flattening out,” says Steve Sheldon, president of Los Angeles pressing plant Rainbo Records. While he doesn’t see a bubble bursting—plants are busy—he believes vinyl is “getting close to plateauing.”
I feel like we’re a little spoiled here. It’s 2017 and vinyl record sales are still growing – yes, more slowly, but growing! – think about that for a minute.
It took five years to get their record-cutting equipment up and running. Once they bought their lathe, they found a tech who gave up his job at a particle accelerator for the new job. “The scientists who developed how to cut good stereo were the brightest people in our country at that time,” Mr. Rawlings says. With their trusted mastering engineer Stephen Marcussen, the team customized the lathe for Ms. Welch and Mr. Rawlings’ sparse, haunting acoustic music.
From a particle accelerator to a record-press. Who says this isn’t high tech?
A cutting lathe, like this one, is a rare, arcane piece of equipment. It makes a ‘lacquer,’ or original copy of a record, which is sent to a pressing plant to be duplicated. Only a few technicians still know how to fix cutting lathes. Most of them have died.