Music Leads the Way in Return to Analog

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A seemingly inevitable cultural embrace of analog, or what we used to call “real world" products and experiences, is underway and the music industry is very much in the forefront with indie record stores, vinyl, merch and live shows. But to hear a rep from Google speak the music industry is fetishizing the past and vinyl is outdated. Nevertheless, a new report supports the music industry's leadership in analog realms.

The move to what is sometimes called a “high touch" experience can be viewed as a response to the world of screens in which we are becoming increasingly immersed. But it's less a reaction and more part of an ongoing give and take seen at others time as well.

Google Finds Creators Fetishizing the Past

However, at a recent soiree in Nashville titled “Google for Creators," the head of Android Global content programming, apparently referencing a Record Store Day-related item, claimed that he is “frustrated when people glorify the way things used to be and that the music industry shouldn't 'fetishize the past.'"

Without further details it's hard to know exactly what he meant but coming from the representative of a company that fetishizes math, I'll prioritize music, thank you very much.

While some in the music industry do fetishize past business models, people are mostly recognizing current realities and one of those is that there's a strong market for vinyl and music merch, physical items that speak very much to the present.

Embracing Analog: Why Music Is Hot

In a recent report from JWT, “Embracing Analog: Why Physical Is Hot," they noted a split between rational choices of online content and the “better experience and comfort found in the physical world." They also noted:

“American adults across generations tend to romanticize the physical, ascribing more meaning to giving and receiving physical objects versus digital versions of the same things. “

The report's examples include deluxe album sets, unique packaging and the “niche for cassettes."

It's Not Just an Issue of Audio Quality

Though some have tried to pigeonhole the vinyl album resurgence as an audiophile phenomenon, that's just one aspect. As I discussed with Nick Mango, folks who fixate on sound quality don't fully grasp the vinyl phenomenon and have no basis for comprehending the cassette revival.

Tangible goods aren't just about utility and, for fans, collectors and gift givers, they hold a great deal of meaning beyond their technical attributes.

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