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Changing Music Genre Consumption Formats.

Andy Robertson

As technology has shifted over the last few decades the formats through which music is consumed has changed. A move away from vinyl and cassettes to CD has since been surpassed by the rise in digital formats and online streaming. However, in recent years there has been a resurgence in vinyl and cassette tape consumption. What’s driving this shift and in which genres?

Every time there is a shift in technology it is often claimed that the quality of reproduction improves as does the volume of storage seemingly making this a no brainer advantage. Large collections of physical vinyl and cassette tapes can now be stored on a small USB stick allowing portability and fast searching with impeccable reproduction quality. The advancement of computing power now available on mobile devices has also driven the rise of online streaming negating the need for any physical storage. 

Artist’s Material Sales Channels. 
Performance artists have adapted to the changing landscape making their material available through online streaming channels where previously they relied on physical sales of vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs either directly or from retail stores. For up-and-coming artists that regularly perform live at gigs and music festivals there was always an opportunity to generate additional revenue from merchandise and sales of vinyl and CDs. 

Online Streaming. 
Streaming channels like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music now dominate where music is consumed, and artists also use their own social media channels like YouTube to distribute their material. Most online streaming service providers enable artists from every genre to generate some revenue from subscriptions sales although the amount can be small for less popular artists. 

Vinyl and Cassette Tapes. 
Music consumption on physical formats has declined since the nineties with exception of vinyl, which also remained popular amongst the older DJ contingent who prefer the sound over digital formats. However, the last few years has seen a resurgence in vinyl sales continuing a trend that has been there for at least 18 years according to data tracking company Luminate. Their data suggests that total vinyl album sales for 2023, across all artists in the U.S., finished at 49.61 million – up 14.2% from 43.46 million in 2022 with 2023 marking the 18th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew in the U.S. Cassette tapes have seen some sales increases too but on a much lower scale. These trends are in part being driven by collectors who want a tangible product and is particularly popular for classic, rock, jazz, EDM and indie music genres. Publishers are also using these physical formats to issue collector's editions and box sets especially for the classic rock, hip-hop and pop genres. 

Other Factors. 
Physical formats like vinyl and cassette tapes remain popular amongst independent and underground niche genre artists. The physical format allows them to easily distribute material when making live appearances so anyone attending a music festival or live music venue will probably still find vinyl and tapes readily being sold. How long these trends will continue is unknown, but an entire support industry is seemingly booming whether it's manufacturers of turntables or owners of retail vinyl stores. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Image by Matthias Groeneveld via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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