Years ago, when you tossed out your old vinyl records or sold them for next to nothing, you likely figured its day was done.
Who could have possibly guessed that the vinyl format, rather than disappearing, is making an impressive comeback amid competition from digitalized music, according to a report in China Daily.
Since launching his debut album Jay in 2000, Mandarin pop star Jay Chou has built a massive fan base in Asia.
To mark his 20th anniversary in the music industry, the singer will release a set of vinyl records, Chou’s record company Sony Music announced on June 30, China Daily reported.
Featuring 150 songs from his 14 albums during the past 20 years, the set will include a blank vinyl disc to promote Chou’s upcoming album.
“This is the first time I have released on vinyl. My first album was released on Nov 6, 2000, and it’s meaningful for me to celebrate my career with a set of such discs,” Chou said.
The resurgence of interest in vinyl also underscores the fact that the country has become a dynamic force in recorded music, China Daily reported.
The Global Music Report: Data and Analysis for 2019, published on May 4 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, showed that China remained the seventh-largest market for recorded music.
Fans have reacted warmly to Chou’s release on vinyl. Bao Leshan, a 30-year-old Beijing office worker, has reserved a set of the records.
A big fan of Chou since she was a primary school student, Bao has bought all the singer’s albums, attended his concerts and even visited Tamkang High School in Taiwan, a location for Chou’s directorial debut movie, Secret, China Daily reported.
“I have never bought any vinyl records before and I know nothing about them. I don’t even have a turntable, but I am planning to buy one to listen to Chou’s music,” she said.
Total global revenue in the recorded music industry reached US$20.2 billion last year, a rise of 8.2% from 2018. Revenue from vinyl rose by 5%, and now comprises more than 16% of overall physical income.
Vinyl records and the stores selling them remain largely unknown to many fans in China, who are content to listen to music on their smartphones and other devices, China Daily reported.
However, there are a number of independent record stores in bigger cities, and more people are buying vinyl records in search of the perfect sound.
LiPi-Records, one of the biggest stores selling vinyl discs in Beijing, is located in the landmark 798 Art Zone, home to vibrant art galleries, cafes and restaurants.
Inspired by the song Yesterday Once More, released on United States vocal and instrumental duo The Carpenters’ fifth album Now & Then in 1973, the store’s founder, Ma Chi, started to collect vinyl records, China Daily reported.
When he visited a record store in Seoul during a business trip to the South Korean capital in 2007, he heard the song playing on a turntable.
Ma, who formed a punk band while studying flight vehicle design at Beihang University in Beijing and who worked for a Swiss company in the capital, said the song touched him and he became “enchanted” by vinyl records.
“I didn’t like listening to pop music, but when the song was playing on a turntable, I was overwhelmed by both the sound and design of the album cover,” he said.
He soon began collecting vinyl records of various genres from second-hand stores he visited during business trips, China Daily reported.
In 2009, Ma founded his store on a 27-square-meter space at the 798 Art Zone, selling his collection.
The store now occupies a 300-square-meter site and there are three branches — in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, where Ma was born and raised, and also Blue Note Beijing and Blue Note Shanghai, two offshoots of the renowned Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, China Daily reported.
“I was lucky that the store made a profit not long after it opened in 2009. I didn’t plan to run it as a business, just as a hobby. I was glad to have like-minded people drop by to share music and stories with me,” Ma said.
The store at the art zone now sells about 1,000 vinyl records a month and has built up a solid fan base, China Daily reported.
Ma’s store is also a distributor for major overseas and domestic record companies, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group, China Record Group and Guangzhou Pacific Audio & Video.