The history of vinyl
The vinyl as we know it today was created by Columbia Records, in the USA, in June 1948, arriving in Europe a month later. The first vinyl released was a recording of the album The Voice of Frank Sinatra, by Frank Sinatra, in a 10-inch disc. However, the first 12-inch disc released was Mendelssohn: Concert in E Minor For Violin And Orchestra Opus 64, by the violinist Nathan Milstein.
The vinyl disc had its most famous era during the 50’s, having sales declined when the Compact Disc (CD) appeared as a greater option to the vinyl. Nevertheless, nowadays people are collecting vinyl discs again and new artists are releasing their albums on vinyl to appeal to all their fans.
The LP is the most common vinyl disc size people can see on the market. Besides the first one being created in a 10-inch version, the most common size available in the market is the 12-inch disc, which has space for 26 minutes of music on each side. Usually played with a 33 1/3 rotation per minute (RPM), on the record player.
LP stands for long play, thus being usually used for albums. Firstly, jazz artists were the ones who recorded their albums on vinyl records, but then rock artists and even classical musicians started to rely on LP to release their albums, as it was possible to have more than a disc in each pack.
The famous seven-inch discs had only one single. Usually played at 45 RPM, these tiny discs were used to release the most popular tracks of some artists, being specially used for the greatest hits of pop music.
It turned out to be the greatest marketing strategy for labels who wanted their artists to top the charts with a specific song. Usually, the lead single would be released before the album. Guaranteeing the success of the single would guarantee the success of the album. Having a top 1 hit was a difficult act to achieve during the 50s to the 90s, as streaming did not exist. Thus, selling a single for a while and later the album would make double the success as predicted.
Sometimes, the single discs would have a second song, or as people used to call it the “B-side”.
EP stands for extended play. The format is similar to the single, but instead of having only two songs, it was possible to feature four songs on the disc, two on each side. In Portugal, for example, EPs were very important in spreading Portuguese popular music, during the 60’s. After the decade of 70, the EP became less used, and sometimes confused with the LP, as artists were releasing their EP in 12-inch records.
Having a vinyl record is having part of someone’s idol at home. Today, vinyl discs are far from being just black discs that fans would put on a record player. Nowadays, artists try to improve the image of their discs, changing colours and even applying patterns to make them unique. Even though it is a bit more expensive than buying a CD, or listening to the songs online, the vinyl discs sales are improving. In a study carried out by The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in 2022, vinyl record sales were higher when compared to CD sales.
Deeply in love with music and with a guilty pleasure in criminal cases, Bruno G. Santos decided to study Journalism and Communication, hoping to combine both passions into writing. The journalist is also a passionate traveller who likes to write about other cultures and discover the various hidden gems from Portugal and the world. Press card: 8463.