Yes, vinyl prices are going up. No, I don’t feel bad.
The same forces of economics that have been working to the benefit of the generic music fan for the past decade are still at work: when there is infinite supply, price drops to effectively zero. Now there’s demand for a physical product again. That product’s supply, in many cases, is less than demand (when it’s not, wait for the clearance sales). Therefore those selling the good — for the first time in some music fans’ entire lives — can actually make money by selling it.
And if there’s anything I’ve learned by reading the posts of music listeners online for over a decade: they hate when bands make money. I’m only half kidding here, but I can’t think of any other industry where I’ve seen the consumer of a product be downright caustic if the creator is turning even a marginal profit.
There is very little of me that holds an ounce of sympathy for the download generation when they raise their pitchforks to complain about the price of a record. If you don’t want something for a certain price: don’t buy it. Hard drives are filled with mp3s and their downloaders have the audacity to say things like “it’s the principle that matters.” Right. Now the music industry has a product that they know consumers want (and that can’t leak early), so a bunch of bands and labels are thinking “we barely made a dime off this the first time, let’s strike while the iron is hot.” You know what? I don’t blame them one bit.
Sometimes in life you don’t get everything you want. Hey! I get it. I get that we live in a world where most of the time you can type a few words into a little box and be almost immediately presented with exactly what you were searching for. Music, movies, books, and artwork that just a few decades ago only a few people in the world could experience (and only if they were in the right place at the right time) are all at our fingertips. The amount of knowledge that we can access from a slab of glass in our pocket is stunning. It’s amazing and wonderful and we are spoiled beyond compare to be living in this time. But that level of immediacy comes with consequences too. This A.D.D. entitlement throwaway culture fucking sucks. Rarity is criticized and the only real scarcity seems to be time. We want everything, we want it now, and we’ve got it all twisted up what it’s worth. A night out with friends: gas, parking, a couple beers, maybe some hot-wings, few tips to the bartender — easily a $30 night (and most would argue totally worth it). A decade of loving a band and having a physical representation of that love? That’s not worth the same? When it comes to walking to my turntable and selecting an album or just reaching into my pocket and pushing play on my iPhone, I don’t ever think “I can’t believe what I am paying for this experience” — I think “holy fuck, what wouldn’t I pay?”
Here’s the truth: we’re getting the deal of a lifetime.