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Outlook of the vinyl revival. 

Outlook of the vinyl revival. 

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New technologies continue to shape the way music is produced, distributed and consumed. The new turn to digital streaming services like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora, in particular, means that very recent music format technologies such as cassettes and CD's have almost lost their value. Surprisingly, one 'obsolete' music format technology, Vinyl reco...

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... of its diffusion is in a large degree in later users' hands (Latour, 1987). From this perspective, the process of translating an innovation requires interactions and the formation of alliances across space and time (Nicolini, 2010; Faraj et al., 2004). Accordingly, the power of dissemination or diffusion does not come from the network-builder alone; the momentum should come from a mass number of other actors (Czarniawska and Sevon, 2005). Each of these other actors may react to the innovation in different ways. They may accept it, modify it, dissent it, or worse, ignore it. It is necessary to control others' behaviour and keep them in line, so that all forces can act as one towards the common goal of building a black box (Latour, 1987). It follows that translation processes are always anchored in contexts: the new ideas have to resonate with multiple interests in order to be taken up, and the way in which they will be attributed meaning will be heavily dependent on the existing conditions (Latour, 1987). Another thing worth noting is that there will always be other competing innovations in circulation at any point in time. Only those that can gather the most allies and keep them in line win the race (Prout, 1996; Alcouffe et al., 2008). Recorded music (and other performances) in various formats had already existed for more than 50 years before the introduction by Columbia of the vinyl 33 rpm LP in 1948. RCA's Victor had already released a vinyl LP, but it was not a commercial success because the playback equipment was too expensive (Drate, 2002). The Colombian LP, as a combinative innovation, combined a 33 rpm playback format with developments in production material that already existed (Osborne, 2012). The development and diffusion of the LP was consequently in fl u- enced both by the format, that allowed longer recordings, and the material, that was lighter, less likely to break, and generated less background noise (Osborne, 2012; Laing, 2012). This was considered a major technological breakthrough in the history of recorded music (Bryne, 2012). Soon after the technology was commercialized, it had been adopted as the standard by the entire music industry, and had remained so for several decades. With vinyl technology, music was no longer time and space-sensitive: music could be heard whenever people wanted to; music from remote areas could be uprooted from their places of origin and exerted huge impact in a local context. During 1948 to the 1970s, vinyl had reached the height of its popularity (Plasketes, 1992; Bryne, 2012). However, vinyl record was not without its own technical limitations. It was extremely vulnerable to scratches. Another technical draw- back constraining vinyl was immobility due to its large size and heavy weight (Osborne, 2013; Plasketes, 1992; Hayes, 2007). As the pattern of industry evolution suggests, old technologies will inevitably be squeezed out by newer ones. Vinyl did not seem to be an exception to this rule. The year 1983 marked another turning point in the history of vinyl with Compact Disc (CD) arriving in the music market. The technological superiority of CD had been praised since its initial introduction into the consumer market. The unprecedented audio clarity, disc durability and storage capacity made CD a more attractive format than any other of its predecessors (Hainge, 2008; Plasketes, 1992). Since the 1980s, CD diffused at an amazing speed, toppling vinyl from the throne in the king- dom of music (Millard, 2005). The year 1988 marked a turning point for vinyl woo, for CD sales surpassed vinyl revenues for the fi rst time (Plasketes, 1992). Vinyl record sales declined 33% by a substantial 15% drop in market share; whereas CD sales increased 31%. Between 1978 and 1988, the number of vinyl units shipped by manufacturers dropped nearly 80% from 341 million to 72 million, according to fi gures released by Recording Industry Association of America (Plasketes, 1992). Con- trastingly, the number of CDs shipped went from nothing in 1978 to a shocking 149.7 million in 1988. From this point onward, vinyl seemed to fi nd itself taking a backseat to the newly-arrived mainstream music medium. During the 1980s, vinyl inventories at major chains and malls diminished. CD outnumbered vinyl in stores by as much as 6 to 1. A large number of new releases were only available on CD. The unsold vinyl records were tossed aside to the back of stores or handled by special order (Plasketes, 1992). Considering the scenarios, pundits had spelled the end of vinyl record. However recent statistics tells otherwise. Facing a digital competitor, the pro fi ts for physical album have shrunk sharply during recent years, with CD sales falling by 19.6% (Jackson, 2014). Yet the linear movement is contradicted by a recent vinyl revival. A number of recent news reports show clear evidence of a signi fi cant uptick in the sales of vinyl, to everyone's surprise (Garvan, 2013; Henry, 2014). As shown in Fig. 1, while vinyl sales as a percentage of overall music sales around the globe remain small; there has been a massive resurgence in vinyl sales. According to the British Phonographic Industry, vinyl sales in the United Kingdom's are at their highest level for 15 years (British Phonographic Industry, 2014). Over 780,000 vinyl albums were sold in 2013, a 101% rise compared to fi gure in the previous year (Statista). As shown in Fig. 2, this upward trend is not just a UK phenomenon, vinyl sales has also hit a peak in the United States. See Fig. 3 The numbers from Soundscan mid-year report shows that the United States were up more than 40% in the fi rst six months of 2014, with 4 million units sold (Christman, 2014). In 2013, vinyl sales hit their highest level since at least 1991, with 6 million units sold. At the current pace, sales in the second half of 2014 seem highly likely to sur- pass that fi gure from the fi rst half of the year. Such mind-blowing fi gures call for a rational explanation. Many have started to wonder: why the once made-obsolete technology is still preferred by music listeners today? In recent times, our understanding of the music enthusiasts' return to vinyl has therefore been extended as a result of some interesting lines of inquiry, analysing the larger social, historical and intellectual context within which vinyl has emerged as a preferred music format (Plasketes, 1992; Magaudda, 2011). Plasketes (1992) has provided some interesting insight into vinyl's re-diffusion from a socio-cultural perspective. He argues that technological advancements are characterized by a cause and effect processes in which one form of culture gains importance whereas others diminish. The obsolete culture icons can often result in the emergence of a subculture, made up of die-hard enthusiasts who, for various reasons, resist technology or progress and determinedly cling to the outdated artefacts because of the meaning and experience contained within. In light of this, the vinyl and its phase-out signal a cultural moment that is marked by the rede fi ning of a product and the formation of a subculture of collectors. The signi fi cance of the vinyl record extends beyond a mere musical medium that stores sound information; it is “ biography, history, culture and subculture ” ( (Plasketes, 1992), p.121). Like other artefacts of an age, vinyl record contains meaning derived from human experience, embracing emotion, passion and romance. It is because the connotative meanings that it carries that keep the old technology from total demise. Following up on Plasketes's study, Connolly (2014) identi fi ed eight groups of listeners that still purchase, collect, listen to and preserve vinyl record. This empirical illustration has substantiated the subculture theory and enriched the existing knowledge. These eight groups of listeners consist of both amateurs and professionals. They are the nostalgic collectors; the new buyers; the label bosses; the young enthusiasts; the romantic musicians; the digger-turned-DJs; the digger-turned-dealers; and the Sighing Sceptics. These diverse groups of die-hard enthusiasts constitute and represent the vinyl subculture that keeps the format alive (Connolly, 2014). So what is the momentum behind this vinyl sales surge? Before we attempt to delineate the momentum behind the recent vinyl re- diffusion, it is worth reviewing how it all probably began, and possibly investigate why this old technology got diffused in the fi rst place. The diffusion and institutionalization of vinyl involved a fortuitous translation process of recruiting allies, aligning interests and establish- ing networks. First of all, we should consider that at the time when the vinyl record was invented, recorded music was not the normative way of music-listening practice as it is today (Bryne, 2012). Live music performance at concert halls and other musical venues still constituted larger revenues in the music industry. Thus vinyl, the powerless new object and friendless network-builder, was eager to recruit allies and establish a powerful network of its own. The fi rst actor it succeeded in translating was its inventor, the Columbia Records, who was trying to maximize business pro fi ts by promoting and selling as many copies of vinyl as it possibly could (Plasketes, 1992). In this instance, not only did vinyl translate Columbia Records, but it also recruited a spokesper- son for the network. Columbia Records spoke for the association's common interests, encouraging music artists to record their music speci fi cally for vinyl. Out of fear of being phased out, other record companies followed suit and did the same, such as RCA and EMI. As record companies fl ourished, music artists were translated too. More music artists took to the idea, and they began to reach out for this new format (Plasketes, 1992). They welcomed the extra income from the sale of vinyl albums beyond what they earned from live performances. ...


Le changement technologique a fait l’objet de nombreuses recherches anglo-saxonnes, retracées dans plusieurs revues de la littérature, à la différence de la littérature francophone, pourtant abondante, sur le sujet. L’article propose d’y remédier. Les publications francophones sont analysées à partir de trois angles de vue (technologie, individu et organisation). Cette analyse débouche sur un cadre intégrateur, offrant une base pour la réflexion et l’action. Nous avons choisi de nous concentrer sur une période de 15 ans (2005-2019). Ce choix se justifie par les évolutions rapides et récentes des travaux sur le changement technologique en organisation, entre autres dues à l’émergence de la littérature sur le numérique et la digitalisation. Nous avons opté pour deux sources de données distinctes, Google Scholar et Cairn. Le choix de ces deux bases s’explique par le fait que nous nous focalisons sur la littérature francophone. Dans les deux cas, nous avons commencé par définir une liste de 19 revues francophones en sciences humaines, classées (HCERES, CNRS ou FNEGE) en sociologie, psychologie, ergonomie ou sciences de gestion. Ces revues ont été choisies parmi les autres revues classées dans ces domaines parce qu’elles avaient publié un ou plusieurs articles de recherche sur le sujet.