ComplexCon returns to Long Beach Nov. 6 - 7 with hosts J. Balvin and Kristen Noel Crawley, performances by A$AP Rocky and Turnstile, and more shopping and drops.

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Image via Urban Outfitters

Image via Urban Outfitters

 UPDATE: Turns out Urban Outfitters is not selling more vinyl than any other retailer after all. From Billboard:

Amazon is the largest seller of vinyl in the U.S., with about 12.3% market share, followed by Urban Outfitters with 8.1% market share. Rounding out the top five retail accounts selling vinyl, the next-largest is Hastings Entertainment with 2.8% of the market; Hot Topic with 2.4%; and Trans World Entertainment with 2.2%.


Over the last few years, clothing retailer Urban Outfitters has branded itself as a leader in the vinyl revival. Calvin Hollinger, the company’s chief administrative officer, went even further this week and proclaimed U.O. as “the world’s number one vinyl seller.” The vinyl trend extends to independent retailers as well: U.S. sales were up to 6.1 million vinyl units moved in 2013, 2.8 million in the U.K.

Here’s a chart that details the recent resurgence, via Buzzfeed:

Image via Buzzfeed

Image via Statista.com


What that chart doesn’t show, however, is how minuscule that 6.1 million is compared to vinyl’s heyday in the late ’70s. Back then, global LP sales were breaching 900 million a year. The chart also doesn’t show the larger current trends: CDs are limping to the grave, digital downloads just had their first downturn ever, and on-demand streaming (the most ephemeral option), is picking up the slack.

Not to say the re-emergence of vinyl isn’t great. It allows artists another creative way to get their music out there, and the sound, of course, is always better on wax. People seem to be waking up to that fact: Jack White set records when he moved 60,000 vinyl units of Lazaretto this year.

But today’s vinyl LP has yet to reach across genres—three out of every four LPs sold in 2013 were rock albums. To truly shake up the music industry, vinyl LPs need to be accessible in every music genre. Urban Outfitter’s online vinyl catalogue does has a passable hip-hop catalogue, but that doesn’t mean people are buying them.

And let’s not forget, the vinyl experience is a two-part equation. You need a great record, and a good record player. U.O.’s offering (the cute-as-a-button Crosley Cruiser briefcase, shown above) is cheap and easy to use. But it’s also cheap and easy to use. If vinyl is ever going to be a slice of the pie (instead of just the crumbs), the listening experience needs to be worth the effort.

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