TOKYO – Nearly 30 years after Sony stopped making vinyl records, the company announced Thursday it will start making records again in Japan to meet surging demand.
Sony Music Entertainment stopped making vinyl records in 1989 as consumers flocked newer formats like compact discs, but its resurgence in the age of streaming and downloading music has the company spinning up production again.
Agence France-Presse reported that Sony produced nearly 200 million records per year in the 1970s, and Nikkei said Japan’s sole record maker, Toyokasei, often cannot keep up with current demand. Nikkei added Sony’s vinyl lineup will include popular older songs as well as the latest hit albums.
A plant run by a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan will start producing records by March 2018, and Nikkei reported Sony is working to bring in older engineers who know the skills necessary to make records to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation.
Of course the resurgence in vinyl is not limited to Japan. The Consumer Electronics Show in January had several record plays on display, with prices ranging from under $100 to more than $15,000. The Associated Press reported in April that several hundred indie music retailers have opened in the U.S. in the past five years. In Austin, stores like Waterloo Records, End Of An Ear and Antone’s Record Shop have been supplying records to audiophiles for years.
Nielsen Music estimated more than 13 million vinyl records were sold in the U.S. in 2016, and AFP cited estimates from Deloitte consulting firm in reporting global vinyl revenue is expected to top $1 billion in 2017.