Let me start with a fact; my father is a DJ. He is an old school disc jockey who snuck out of his house with a crocus bag of 45’s to play on his friends sound system with one turntable and one microphone. Where he engaged the crowd in conversation to fill the dead air in between songs. I have fond memories as a child looking at a mountain of records that was used to make an additional wall in my father’s studio apartment. Sunday mornings the pop of the speakers woke me up when the set was turned on and then the sweet crackle when the needle touched the record. In more ways than one vinyl had a way of announcing its presence, music was more than sound, it was a tangible auditory experience.
According to the music blog www.tunecore.com, Vinyl has been making a resurgence in America by more than 1000% between 2007 and 2015. This coupled with the fact that modern musicians (Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd are recent examples I know) have been making vinyl versions of their records to satisfy the vinyl market. Portable record players are very affordable on Ebay and on Amazon and I’m currently playing a record while writing this article.
This leaves me with a sad realization that Jamaica, the land of dub, has not caught on to Vinyl comeback. Although vinyl is alive and well through events like Vinyl Thursdays and Dub Club and Tuff Gong also recently announced that their vinyl factory will start pressing records again, I think the biggest problem lies within the fans.
Jamaicans are the biggest fans of music but at times we are very poor consumers of our product. According to www.thevinylfactory.com the increase in demand for vinyl seems to be in other Caribbean countries and in Asia. Locally we tend to not buy our own music and constantly flock free events or concerts with big headliners, but small event promoters find it hard to really make a profit. Record companies, therefore, find the foreign market to be a much more substantial financial destination and tangible music will be treated as a crop for export rather than a musical for the people, by the people.
I, therefore, hope that despite all the advantages that technology has afforded us; Jamaicans can find a way to make this cornerstone of our local music history a trending topic again. #bringbackvinyl