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Vinyl revival slow in U.S. - DJ Cipha Sounds

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMCurtis Campbell
DJ Cipha Sounds
Reggae artiste Kabaka Pyramid
Iba MaHr

Patricia Chin, co-founder of VP Records, recently told The Sunday Gleaner that the company was celebrating the ongoing revival of vinyl in Europe and Japan. However, according to Roc Nation/former Hot 97 media personality DJ Cipha Sounds, the US market does not appear to be welcoming the return of vinyl with open arms.

He said the US market is still very much fixated on digital music, and does not seem ready to switch back to vinyl any time soon.

DJ Cipha, who recently resigned from New York-based Hot 97 radio station, opting to sign with Jay Z's Roc Nation record label, told The Sunday Gleaner: "I don't think it will ever blow up in the US. It will always be sold ... but it will never be huge. CDs and MP3s have decreased sales. So nowadays, instead of looking for the vinyl to make a major return, it's better to put out your music for free and sell a T-shirt. It's more about merchandising, because people have been bootlegging the music so much," he said.




Despite Cipha Sounds' view that a lucrative vinyl industry might not return to the US, he acknowledged that there has been an improvement in recent times.

"Vinyl is like a novelty. They say, like college students here are buying turntables and vinyl because they like the sound of it. But also vinyl 45s are blowing up. They have 45 parties in New York, where people have been playing classic break beats and singles that never came out except on 45s. People like me and reggae DJs have been supporting reggae 45s, but I don't know if it will ever grow past that," he told The Sunday Gleaner.

In the meantime, the new generation of reggae artistes are already cashing in on the vinyl rebirth. Young reggae acts like Kabaka Pyramid and Iba MaHr started their respective careers during the digital-dominated era. However, the artistes told The Sunday Gleaner that they, too, were making steps to capitalise on the vinyl revival.

"I think the vinyl reflects the authentic part of the production, and everybody wants a taste of that. You also have people who are only focused on playing vinyl, and so we have to cater to those people," Iba MaHr told The Sunday Gleaner recently.

Kabaka Pyramid has released songs like King Kabaka and Me Alright, among others, on vinyl. Iba MaHr has released songs like Diamond Sox and Will I Wait, on vinyl.

"We focus on Europe and Japan mostly, but you have pockets of people everywhere who play vinyl. Some of the songs we had were not even pressed in Jamaica because the press machines in Jamaica are closed down. Jamaica does not have the population to provide financial stability for a dying market," Kabaka Pyramid said.

The artiste also chastised the Jamaican Government, claiming that they have not been doing enough to develop the music industry.

"You have proper distribution in foreign countries and their governments support small businesses. In Jamaica, that does not happen, so the vinyl industry locally is on the back of the stick," he said.