Vinyl sales just beat out digital downloads in the UK

The World
Alan Scholefield is co-owner of Honest Jon's in London

If you're a crate digger like I am, there's nothing more disappointing then dropping a needle on a record and having it sound like it came from the trash heap.

And yet, vinyl collectors are a committed bunch. They keep on buying, even if the medium can be fragile. The scratches sometimes even bring an authenticity or richness that super-clean CD or digital technology lacks.

And it seems like more people are starting to appreciate the vintage-style format. In the United Kingdom this month, more money was spent on vinyl records than on digital downloads for the first time. The shift represents eight consecutive years of growth for a format that, decades ago, was dying.

Alan Scholefield co-owns Honest Jon's, a record shop on Portobello Road in London.

His store specializes in ska and reggae. And while sales have never really gone down at his shop, he has noticed more and more teenagers coming into Honest Jon's buying vinyl, especially new releases. 

The demand is keeping record plants humming around the clock. And that too has impacted Scholefield's business. You see, Honest Jon's is a label, too. They press limited edition records. "One of the kind of weird effects of this vinyl buzz has made it actually quite hard to find a plant to press your record," he says.

Honest Jon's has always played a big part in the community in and around Portobello Road. "Record stores are like that," says Scholefield.

Not only is it a big shopping area for tourists, but "it's one of the areas, post World War II, West Indian immigration came," says Scholefield. "Jamaicans, Trinidadians, St. Lucians, etc. … so it has been a multi-ethnic area from back in the day when lots of parts of London weren't diverse."

And so, the store catered to the musical tastes of its immigrant community, and those communities in turn would buy music that no one else in town was selling. 

Time has certainly made this a win-win for everyone involved.


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