CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (1/31/2019 Thu.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (1/31/2019 Thu.)

People's Daily app

02:03, January 31, 2019

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From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

Although vinyl records long ago lost their battle with cassettes, CDs and online downloads, fans of the retro music format are seeing signs of a comeback in China. 

A Deloitte report from 2017 predicted that vinyl sales would generate $1 billion US dollars globally for the first time this century, accounting for 6 percent of global music revenue. In addition, new vinyl revenue is likely to see a seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth, with 40 million new records sold. 

Consumption of physical formats fell in most markets, but revenue for physical recordings still accounted for 30 percent of the global market and a higher percentage of market share in some countries.

Globally, revenue from vinyl sales grew 22.3 percent and accounted for 3.7 percent of the total recorded music market in 2017.

Prompted by China's growing appetite for vinyl, record stores have emerged in major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.  

Today's Story in the Story looks at how vinyl is undergoing a lively comeback thanks to music lovers in China who prefer to hear their favorite tunes played from a record rather than a compact disc.

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Giving vinyl its due praise at Music Station in Gulou. (Photo: Global Times) 

"During the past year or two, more young people have come to my record store and listened to and talked about vinyl. I'm so happy to see the trend," said Jin Fangyong, 60, in Hangzhou, Eastern China's Zhejiang Province.

Jin, who has a collection of nearly 100,000 records, has also noticed a resurgence of vinyl at domestic music shows in recent years, where nearly every record company has dedicated a booth to vinyl. 

Domestic record manufacturer YongTong, based in Southern China's Guangzhou, has ridden the wave of vinyl's surging popularity. The company opened a vinyl production line in 2015, the first since China's last such line closed nearly 20 years ago. 

Chen Yingming, general manager of the company, said the idea was inspired by his son, a die-hard music fan who asked him for a record player five years ago when he was 17. 

"I was astonished. Where did he see vinyl?" said Chen. He later learned that records had made a comeback abroad, and some of his son's idols had even put out recordings on vinyl. 

Chen's team visited several record factories in Europe and the US in 2012, before spending more than two years manufacturing and improving the company's first vinyl pressing machine. 

YongTong has eight production lines, each able to press 800 records per day, supplying both domestic and foreign record companies. 

"Given vinyl's increasing popularity abroad, it is only a matter of time for China to embrace the renaissance," said Lin Hengmin, founder of Hymn-originals, a company that has provided vinyl services to musicians since 2015. 

"I can still remember the feeling when I first listened to music on a turntable as a teenager," Jin said. 

"Everything about vinyl deserves appreciation: the covers, photographs, packaging, and signature," he said. Some young people have turned to vinyl to seek a long-lost "sense of ritual" in this fast-paced era, Lin said. "When playing records, you must manually change songs on the turntable. It's a more interactive way to enjoy music." 

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The dramatic US cover of Whitesnake's Trouble (1978). (Photo: China Daily) 

Vinyl's comeback reflects the more diverse musical tastes and lifestyles of Chinese people, especially the young generation, said Liu Jin, general manager of the musician division of Taihe Music Group. 

"We are optimistic about the vinyl market in China though it will take some time to recapture the glory years of the 1990s," says Hou Jun, vice-president of China Record Group, the biggest and oldest record company in the country.

"Many people are happy to listen to music on their smartphones and assume record stores can barely survive, but in fact the country, which used to be home to many local record companies and record stores catering to every taste and budget, is enjoying a revival, especially with the resurgence of vinyl," Hou said.

In the 1990s, the company sold about 10 million records, such as pop, folk, and classical music by Chinese singers and orchestras.

In the early 2000s the number dropped to less than 10,000 copies, and the change in the way music was consumed forced many Chinese record companies to close during the first decade of the new millennium.  

In the late 1990s China Record Group closed its last vinyl production line, but as the company recently celebrated the 110th year of its founding, it announced plans to revive vinyl production.

Fan Guobin, president of China Record Group, said the company has imported a production line from Germany that marks the start of the company's vinyl production. The company set up a vinyl factory in Shanghai complete with its own production line.

"The completion of the factory shows that China's vinyl record production, which originated in Shanghai in the 1920s, is ready to take off again in the same city where it started," said Hou. 

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe, and Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily and Global Times.)

 

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