I've played music, toured, and put out records for the past fifteen years. Last week, I received a copy of my own band's new LP in the mail, something that is always a delight and has lost none of its novelty over the years. But this time around, there was a crucial difference: this was not a vinyl release, it was a vinyl reissue, its reprint date falling approximately 13 years after the record's initial pressing. The album artwork had been cleaned up, new photos had been added, the vinyl was a brilliant electric blue, the package included a free digital download of the album, and it felt like getting my first record in the mail all over again - which, in a very literal sense, it was.
In addition to being a musician, I'm also a letterpress printer. From a purely industrial perspective, vinyl records and letterpress printing have rise/fall/rise histories that follow similar timelines: to put it in flatly economic terms, both were once-massive industrial processes rendered almost entirely obsolete as they were replaced by late-20th century digital technologies. But in the early years of the 21st century, both have experienced a small but steady resurgence, particularly among younger generations. Even if this hasn't exactly happened at a level that would ruffle the respective music and print industries, it's nonetheless enough to have assisted not just in the survival, but in some particularly hip/hipster areas (Oakland/SF, Portland, Brooklyn, and as of recently, apparently the entire South), an increase in the number of independent music stores and print shops.