Sony to re-start vinyl production 30 years after ditching format



Japanese entertainment giant Sony has said it will re-start production of vinyl records, 30 years after abandoning the format.

A factory southwest of Tokyo will start pressing records again from next March to meet a growing demand for the retro format.

Sony ceased production of records in 1989 after music fans switched their attention to CDs and other emerging formats.

Some vinyl pressing plants are struggling to keep up with demand.

Major music market Japan produced around 200 million records per year in the 1970s, according to the country’s recording industry association.

The format was superseded by the CD, which in turn was replaced by streaming services and other digital formats.

But vinyl has witnessed a resurgence in popularity in recent years among older fans and younger music lovers who place a greater emphasis on audio quality.

“The decision didn’t surprise me because vinyl sales have been climbing for the last five years. A friend of mine in Berlin told me he has to wait half a year for the pressing plant to press his record because it’s overbooked,” Ni Bing, founder of the Chinese record label Drum Rider, told CGTN.

“The biggest digital platforms like iTunes, Spotify are stuck because not so many people are paying to subscribe to music now,” he said.

Vinyl is finding new fans among the generation, old and young.

But while he welcomes the vinyl revival, he doesn’t think it’s likely to hit China in a big way.

“A lot of friends have started collecting records and buying record players. It’s a small, niche market. There’s only one pressing plant in China, in Shenzhen, pressing old, legendary records,” he said.

“I don’t think it will develop that fast here compared to the international market. People listening to music now are getting younger and younger. They are born in the digital world. How can they go back to the vinyl world? The sound quality for them does not really matter.”

Consultancy firm Deloitte says global vinyl sales this year are expected to peak at around 1 billion US dollars, far in excess of the revenue generated from CDs and digital downloads.