Sony Music, one of the big three global record companies, says it will start pressing its own vinyl releases again for the first time since 1989.The firm will resume in-house domestic vinyl production at a Japanese factory south-west of Tokyo by March 2018.The move comes amid renewed demand for old-fashioned black plastic records, which now occupy a key market niche.At one time, the format had been expected to disappear after the rise of CDs, digital downloads and streaming.During vinyl’s long decline from the late 1980s onwards, many vinyl record factories closed down, with production confined to a few specialist independent firms.But this year, global vinyl revenue is expected to hit $1bn (£770m), with many consumers swearing by its supposedly superior sound quality.
Analysis: Jonty Bloom, business correspondent
They said the CD had killed it and that digital downloads had left it dead and buried: but vinyl is back. Sony, which played a major part in killing off vinyl by developing CDs, has seen them replaced in turn by other music technology such as downloads and streaming, but vinyl is increasingly popular once again.
The format has been saved by a resurgence in demand, as it attracts not only nostalgic older consumers, but also younger generations who have rediscovered records, especially in clubs and at music festivals.
Sony is even struggling to find older engineers who know how to make records. Part of the reason for the popularity of vinyl records may be that you can actually sell them in shops. In the UK, record sales brought in more money last year than streaming platforms – although the unit costs of vinyl is many times that of streaming.
Vinyl records have been growing in popularity again in recent years, boosted by events such as Record Store Day in April every year, for which record companies produce special limited-edition singles and albums.
Sony’s move comes a few months after it equipped its Tokyo studio with a cutting lathe, used to produce the master discs needed for manufacturing vinyl records.
It has not yet said which titles it will be pressing in vinyl, but big sellers in the format these days are a mixture of classic back-catalogue items and modern releases by new bands.