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Sony to make vinyl records again

June 29, 2017

The Japanese tech giant stopped making vinyl records in 1989, with cassettes and compact discs dominating the market at that time. But the format's renaissance has led Sony to return it to the market.

Symbolbild Schallplatte Verkaufserfolg von Vinyl
Image: Getty Images/M. Cardy

Three decades after it abandoned vinyl production, Sony says it will start making records again on the back of surging demand for the retro music format.

A factory southwest of Tokyo will make freshly pressed records by March next year, Sony Music Entertainment said Thursday.

Almost 200 million records a year were produced in Japan in the mid-1970s, according to the country's recording industry association.

Sony was a major global player in the development of CDs, which have since taken a back seat to downloads and music streaming.

Vinyl has been making a global comeback as it attracts not only nostalgic older consumers but also younger generations, who are attracted by the depth of sound quality that vinyl can offer in comparison to the digital alternatives.

Vinyl record sales boom

Soaring demand

Japan's sole record maker, Toyokasei, is struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl demand, the influential Nikkei newspaper reported.

Sony is now scrambling to find older engineers familiar with how to make records, it added.

Panasonic relaunched its legendary Technics SL-1200 turntable several years ago as the market picked up.

Sony did not say what music it will release in record format, but Nikkei said the lineup will include popular Japanese songs from the past, including Sony-owned titles, as well as chart-topping contemporary albums.

Global vinyl revenue will top $1 billion (around 875,000 euros) this year while sales of CDs and digital downloads continue to fall, according to estimates from the consulting firm Deloitte.

In Britain, where vinyl's rebirth has been particularly pronounced, records generated more revenue than advertising-backed tiers of streaming platforms last year.

mds/sri (AFP, Reuters)