Sony Will Start Pressing Vinyl Records After 28-Year Hiatus

Jun 30, 2017

The year was 1989. The president was a newly elected George H.W. Bush. The hair was, well, teased.

The music? "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Like a Prayer," "Right Here Waiting," "We Didn't Start the Fire."

And, notably, it was the last time that Sony pressed a vinyl record, giving way to both the popularity of cassette tapes as well as the then-new digital format known as the compact disc, which Sony had a key role in developing.

After a 28-year hiatus, Sony announced this week that it plans to open a new facility in Japan dedicated to pressing vinyl records. It's a back-to-the-future announcement at a time when the true digital music revolution—downloaded and streaming via always-on Internet connectivity—has quickly grown to dominate listening habits.

According to Japan's recording industry association, the country produced nearly 200 million records per year in the mid-1970s. That's unlikely to return. But while many of us have been content to wirelessly download our music, a surprising number of people are going to the store—or, let's be honest—and purchasing a vinyl record, sleeve and all.

Deloitte, the global consulting firm, predicts that global revenue for vinyl records and related accessories (e.g. turntables) will reach $1 billion this year. It's a rise so rapid that, in Japan at least, the remaining factory—there's only one—pumping out vinyl, Toyokasei, can't keep up, according to a Nikkei report.

In the U.S., boutique outlets such as Jack White's Third Man Pressing in Detroit, SunPress Vinyl in Miami, and vinyl-only labels like Warner Music's Run Out Groove and U.K.-based Omertà have emerged.

Is vinyl back? Not quite, warns Deloitte. Though 20 million people around the world are predicted to purchase a vinyl record this year, the format will likely remain niche, albeit high-margin. Vinyl is back, but only as a collectible. The rest of us, meanwhile, will keep on streaming.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions