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For the Record…How will Brexit Impact the Vinyl Industry?

Once destined to be just another footnote in music history following the advent of the CD, vinyl has enjoyed a serious resurgence in recent years.

In fact that might be putting it mildly – with the value of vinyl sales even managing to outpace downloads, we could probably get away with calling it a second renaissance for the humble record.

However will the vinyl industry’s comeback tour be cut short by the UK’s vote to leave the EU?

Production

There are currently only a couple of places still producing vinyl in the UK, with the vast majority of the records being enjoyed by British audiophiles being pressed in Central and Eastern Europe.

This, of course could have major consequences for the vinyl industry in Britain, with the possibility of the UK leaving the EU customs union potentially leading to tariffs being levied on all imports from Europe.

To help counter this some overseas pressing plants have expressed interest in relocating parts of their operation to the UK, with some UK based firms also looking to expand in the expectation that artists will look to get their records pressed locally.

However, with a large portion of the materials used in manufacturing vinyl records also originating abroad, relocating production to the UK may still prove to be problematic.

Prices

It seems inevitable then that Brexit will raise productions costs for record labels, an increase which would need to be at least partially shouldered by consumers.

With the average record already retailing at over £20, the added expense may discourage some music fans from continuing to support the vinyl industry.

To make things worse, should Brexit negatively impact the wider UK economy, these price rises could also coincide with British consumers tightening their belts, possibly placing additional pressure on sales.

Then again, with 70% of all record sales already being attributed to a small core of dedicated ‘superfans’, who are more willing to overlook price increases, demand for vinyl may endure regardless.

Growth

Analysts have also expressed concerns about the continued growth of vinyl sales, given that an already bottlenecked supply chain could be made even worse by the possibility of tariffs and increased bureaucratic tape post-Brexit.

Add to this the elevated costs of production, and we could see many smaller indie labels and emerging artists shy away from vinyl as it becomes too cost prohibitive to produce.

Then there are also issues that face not only the vinyl industry but the music industry as a whole.

For instance, the end of freedom of movement could hinder UK artists looking to build an international audience by touring in Europe or dissuade EU acts from playing in the UK.

It also remains unclear how Brexit will impact existing copyright laws. Will, after leaving the EU, the UK’s copyright protection on sound recordings revert to back 50 years?

If so this may complicate matters if an artist covers a song that is out of copyright in the UK but still covered by copyright law in the EU, potentially preventing it from being pressed in Europe.

Exchange Rates

Even before the UK officially breaks away from the EU next year, it is likely that the impact of Brexit will have been felt throughout the vinyl industry due to the increased volatility of the Pound.

As already mentioned the majority of records sold in the UK originate abroad and must be imported.

This has seen vinyl prices begin to creep up over the last year as the weakness of the Pound leads to unfavourable exchange rates and increased costs for importers. However, this is one area where immediate action can be taken.

By using a leading currency provider like Foremost Currency Group to manage their currency transfers, importers can secure more competitive exchange rates, avoid transfer fees and save time and money.

 

The uncertainty of Brexit makes it difficult to gauge what the exact impact on the vinyl industry will be, but for now thousands of people are keeping their fingers crossed that record collecting doesn’t become an increasingly expensive hobby once the UK finally leaves the EU!

 

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