Three decades after it abandoned vinyl production, Sony says it will start making records again on the back of surging demand for the retro music format. A factory southwest of Tokyo will be churning out freshly pressed records by March next year, Sony Music Entertainment said Thursday.
The Japanese giant stopped making vinyl records in 1989, a company spokesman said, as consumers flocked to compact discs and other emerging music technology. Major music market Japan produced nearly 200 million records a year in the mid-seventies, according to the country's recording industry association.
Sony was a major global player in the development of CDs, which have since taken a back seat to downloads and music streaming. Vinyl has been making a global comeback as it attracts not only nostalgic older consumers but also younger generations. Japan's sole record maker Toyokasei is struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl demand, the influential Nikkei newspaper reported. Sony is now scrambling to find older engineers familiar with how to make records, it added.
Panasonic relaunched its legendary Technics SL-1200 turntable several years ago as the market picked up. Sony did not say what music it will release in record format. The Nikkei said the lineup will include popular Japanese songs from the past, including Sony-owned titles, as well as chart-topping contemporary albums. Global vinyl revenue will top $1.0 billion this year while sales of CDs and digital downloads continue to fall, according to estimates from consulting firm Deloitte. In Britain, where vinyl's rebirth has been particularly pronounced, records generated more revenue than advertising-backed tiers of streaming platforms last year.