Although streaming music services are currently duking it out for listeners’ ears, there will always be people out there who insist to their friends, “You know, this actually sounds a lot better on vinyl.” For those folks — as well as many other music fans who enjoy tunes produced by a solid hunk of plastic — Sony has decided to resume pressing vinyl records for the first time since 1989.
Sony wants to keep up with demand from not only from aging hipsters, but also younger people who might be discovering vinyl for the first time.
Production will start in March 2018 at a plant in Japan run by a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, reports Nikkei. The last vinyl record Sony pressed in-house was in 1989, when CDs were beginning to replace cassettes as the dominant format.
Sony will be pressing popular older albums, mostly Japanese music it holds the rights to, as well as newer hit records. The company will also field offers from other record labels, as one of only two record manufacturers in the country.
The company also installed record-cutting equipment at a Tokyo recording studio earlier this year, which will allow it to make the masters required to copy vinyl records. Sony may have a hard time finding engineers who know the old ways and can share that knowledge with the next generation.
The timing is right, as the last few years have seen vinyl LPs return to popularity. For example: In 2015, while CD sales were flagging, vinyl sales hit $321 million, a whopping 50% increase from 2014.
“A lot of young people buy songs that they hear and love on streaming services,” Sony Music CEO Michinori Mizuno said of vinyl’s newfound popularity.