In the era when it seems like all of our music has gone digital, Amazon reports an interesting trend: sales of vinyl records are up 745% since 2008.
Why are vinyl record sales up? Part of it may be cultural, as the “hipster” generation and DJ culture grow up and start buying more music on the Web to feed their old-school music collections. Amazon would have you believe that one of its product features is responsible—Amazon AutoRip is a feature that gives customers free MP3 versions of select vinyl and CDs purchased through the e-commerce giant.
Amazon says that AutoRip-enabled vinyl records sell at a 62% higher volume than non-AutoRip albums, pushing vinyl unit sales up 66% year-over-year since the company launched AutoRip in early 2013.
Amazon is a company that is building a lot of alternative ways for users to access content. It has created an entire ecosystem where it can sell fan fiction in Amazon Worlds. Amazon has a similar program to AutoRip with its massive book collection in MatchBook, a service that will allow consumers that have bought select physical books in the past (and present) to buy discounted or free Kindle editions of those books.
While all of the products that Amazon announces over a year may seem like a random set of features, there is method to the company’s madness. Amazon has the ability to closely track its customer data and respond with products that will help boost sales of any given product vertical while also providing value for its other services, like its Kindle platform.
Creating digital content that can it can serve to its Kindle ereaders and Kindle Fire tablets is of great benefit to Amazon. If you buy a physical book or vinyl record, Amazon can keep you in its orbit by giving you digital copies of those purchases that can be consumed by Amazon gadgets.
Services like AutoRip also speak to Amazon’s ability to react to trends it sees within its market. In this case, Amazon sees that vinyl records are selling well and creates a value-added service in AutoRip that can help spur future sales. In this way, Amazon is effectively turning analog sales into digital dollars. It does this by reading and understanding its own internal data and turning it into actionable consumer features as good as any company in the world.
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories vinyl album image from Amazon customer upload by Zachary Schlieder.