Singapore

Vinyl records sales boom in Singapore, worldwide

PHOTO: Vinyl record sales have become a hot new trend in Singapore. (via Wikimedia)

People in Singapore may be eyeing a new record. No, like, actually looking at an actual record. According to a report by Luminate Data, a provider of data for the music industry, vinyl record sales have steadily grown for over a decade. This growth can be seen in the increasing number of record shops popping up in areas such as Kampung Glam, Peninsula Plaza, and Joo Chiat in Singapore.

Data shows that the trend is seen around the world. In the UK, vinyl outsold CDs for the first time in 35 years. Similarly, in the US, people are buying more vinyl than CDs for the first time in 30 years.

The popularity of special editions helps keep shoppers buying in the age of digital music streaming. Instead of just the traditional record in a cardboard sleeve, record companies are releasing elaborate box sets and limited edition packaging, often with “goodie bags” of additional merchandise. These items often become collectable and then have a much higher resale value.

The phenomenon of stan culture, which emerged in the late 2010s and became more commonplace during the middle of the decade, has also played a role in the resurgence of vinyl. The term is based on the Eminem song “Stan” and combines the words “stalker” and “fan” to describe superfans, the sort who will drop plenty of cash collecting anything related to their favourite bands or artists.

After blowing up online, stan culture now drives physical sales for musicians to sell all sorts of products, including vinyl. The New York Times says the desire to have a tangible object from the bands they love is the main factor to push an album to No.1 in the charts.

Roxy Records & Trading is the oldest record store in Singapore, launched in 1962. They are relishing the record renaissance. Fluidity has helped keep the family business running for over six decades. They currently are thriving with a vinyl ordering service and monthly shipments of the coolest new albums that younger generations are after.

Ashley Wong, the 19 year old owner of hip record store Wildflower Wax Co, attributes around 40% of her sales to stans buying strictly pop albums. One of the second-generation owners of Roxy Records described the lifecycle of vinyl collectors.

“Vinyl records became popular again and then pop artists start producing records to meet the demand and it just keeps rising.”

Singapore has had a healthy vinyl music industry since the 1960s. A major pressing plant in the country used to pump out one million records a month. Some of these records are still being traded in second-hand stores, introducing a wider variety of music to new young vinyl collectors. Music in Cantonese, Malay, and Mandarin is also growing in popularity due to record sales, as is Japanese music.

The Wildflower Wax Co record shop owner, who started the shop as a side gig while studying, expressed the warm nostalgia felt by her customers.

“From what I’ve seen from my customers, young people want to immortalise their feelings in some sort of tangible, physical art. Some people want nostalgia purely, but some also see vinyl as a way to increase their understanding/connection to their favourite artists. Feeling a record with your fingers, which may be hailed from 1971 – it’s just a beautiful thing to see.”

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.