Romanus Records has taken the cake for strangest objects pressed into vinyl. The Indianapolis based company describes its products as “dangerous vinyl”, with razor blades and “free floating” gun powder pressed into the wax for Texas rock duo Ghost Wolves’ latest release.
According to The Vinyl Factory, dinosaur bones and brewery grains are also being filled into Ghost Wolves’ records. In an interview, Chris Banta, the CEO of Romanus Records, revealed, “We are always trying to push the bounds of creativity of what can be put in a record. It’s such an open-ended artistic format, with endless possibilities.”
“The process of making these is a mastery of the dark arts,” Banta said. “They are constantly evolving… It’s been a giant messy success so far.”
With these pressings, Romanus Records has shown blatant creativity in a surprising medium. They’re visually intriguing and one should never miss an opportunity to say “my vinyl is part dinosaur.”
Several months ago, we were fairly shocked to learn that vinyl had actually supplanted digital downloads in terms of total sales for one week back in late November. While the combination of downloads losing traction due to the rise of streaming plus vinyl’s resurgence as a novelty gift might have explained that ‘anomaly,’ I’m sure you’ll be even more surprised to hear that vinyl is well on its way to becoming a billion-dollar industry by year’s end.
To put that into perspective, vinyl sales haven’t hit the $1 billion mark since the golden era of the ’80s, but it seems that double-digit growth in sales for the seventh straight year has vinyl poised to achieve that mark. According to data provided by Deloitte, vinyl is expected to sell 40 million records this year. And when you take into account the sales from turntables, record players, and other vinyl accessories, the industry could potentially reach the $1 billion mark after all.
A vinyl renaissance of sorts has grown in concurrence with the advent of streaming as the new most popular method of music delivery. Young music enthusiasts have become fascinated by the organic warmth of a record player’s sound, and grown fond of the nostalgia it engenders. In the UK in particular, vinyl had a particularly impressive resurgence in 2016, as the country witnessed a record-breaking year of 3.2 million units sold – the highest figure for vinyl sales in the UK since 1991.
Fascinatingly, vinyl records also bested digital downloads in the UK last year when comparing how much money was spent on each technology. This could be attributed to streaming, which clocked in at 45 billion plays in 2016. “Millennials, who’ve grown up digital, are increasingly choosing to experience both current and heritage artists on vinyl also. Meanwhile older baby-boomers are embracing streaming alongside their record collections,” stated Regent Street and Goldbar Records owner Vanessa Higgins of growth in the opposing technologies.
In 2016, over 251 billion songs were streamed in the United States, making up 38% of the country’s music consumption market. That’s a 76% increase from the previous year’s statistics, and marks the first time in history that streaming has surpassed even digital sales, making it the number one way that Americans listen to music.
Interestingly, we have hip-hop and R&B to thank for streaming’s incredible year. Those two genres combined make up 28% of all streams, and of course, Drake is the top artist of the year with over 5.4 billion streams.
However, not all is lost to the digital realm, as vinyl just wrapped up its biggest year since 1991 with 13 million sales.
We think it’s safe to say, though, that downloads are dead.
The music industry has always been in a state of perpetual change, though once the internet took ahold of it, that evolution was sped up exponentially. As such, predicting the trends before they happen tends to be difficult, though not impossible if one knows where to look and how to analyze the data.
One recent trend that seems to have taken the majority of the industry by complete surprise was the resurgence of analog gear and, more specifically, vinyl. While digital music has served as one of the most omniscient changes in the industry through the advent of the MP3 and the internet, it hasn’t been enough to completely eclipse the analog world. One recent study by the Entertainment Retail Association (ERA) irrefutably proves this point yet again. According to the ERA, last week saw sales of vinyl records surpass that of digital in the United Kingdom: £2.4 ($3.03) million and £2.1 ($2.64) million, respectively.
This is the first time in music history that this has happened (since the advent of digital music, of course), and was driven by a combination of digital sales falling drastically while the supply and accessibility of vinyl records increased to match the demand. The signs leading to this disparity first came to light with a finding in 2015 that showed vinyl sales already beating out the combined ad-supported streaming revenue from YouTube, VEVO, SoundCloud, and Spotify.
The Entertainment Retailers Association has reported that for the week of November 28th, 2016, vinyl sold £2.4 million, compared to downloads accounting for sales of only £2.1 million. This marks the first time ever that vinyl has out-performed digital media.
The growing hype behind Record Store Day, and preference for analog texture could be responsible for the shift, but it could certainly be attributed to the holiday gift-buying craze, or English retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury’s stocking more records than before. Last year, the UK vinyl industry saw its eighth year of growth in a row. Whatever the cause of this vinyl resurgence, it certainly signifies a change in how listeners are consuming music.
As Jumbo Records’ Adam Gillison explained to The Independent,“Ultimately, in this digital world our customers are continually looking for a tangible, physical way to celebrate their love for their favourite artists – something that digital services simply cannot offer.”
Justice‘s Woman excelled in pushing genre barriers – so much so, in fact, that we’ve named it our number one album of 2016. Now, the duo are pushing technological barriers in an unusual way. Justice’s third studio album has been available in CD, vinyl, and digital formats since mid-November; however, their backing label, Ed Banger, has created a prototype which melds the three formats.
Justice uploaded a video to their Instagram today, December 7, that shows a CD/vinyl hybrid of Woman in action. Captioned, “•WOMAN• one side CD / one side VINYL – this very limited edition is a prototype (first ever!) and is not yet for sale.” The video sees Ed Banger label-head Busy P showing off the progressively retro format to astounded cameraman Glenjamn. Though no release date for this multi-functional iteration of the albumhas been set, it will the ultimate collectors item for any Justice fan.
Imagine being able to appreciate the warmth of Xavier and Gaspard’s tertiary LP on a record player, then blasting “RANDY” in the Honda Accord’s CD player, and then becoming giddy with excitement upon the recollection that the Woman CD/vinyl can be transferred onto iTunes via any computer with a CD drive. Sure, the album is available on every major online streaming platform, but didn’t that scenario sound titillating?
Watch the “new” format of Woman being played on a turntable in the below video.
As one of LA’s greatest exports, Dim Mak deserves its place among the most influential EDM labels around. Though they’ve come to branch out more in recent years, we still enjoy their funky, trappy, poppy, strange sounds and appreciate them for it.
This year, Dim Mak has been celebrating its 20th anniversary with aplomb and we’ve been along for the ride. Whether at their showcase at Electric Zoo or at any of the myriad of anniversary shows across the nation, you’ve been privy to the craziness that a Dim Mak show brings.
This weekend, Steve Aoki & crew are headed to San Francisco and Los Angeles for two of their biggest parties of the year – but when you arrive, you should do it in style. In partnership with Dim Mak, they’ve allowed us to set up this little giveaway with a bunch of goodies.
One winner will receive:
– “Dim Mak 20th Anniversary” by RVCA Hoodie, Crew Neck, 2 T-Shirts, and Beanie.
– Pair “Dim Mak 20th Anniversary” by Sol Republic Headphones.
– 1 “Dim Mak 20th Anniversary” Vinyl and CD with Exclusive 24-Page Photo Booklet.
– Chance to meet Steve Aoki & the Dim Mak fam backstage at the next Dim Mak 20th event (must provide your own transportation).
That’s pretty dope. Enter below! Time is running out.