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Nostalgia reigns, as vinyl popularity fuels jukebox sales 

As vinyl enthusiasts prepare for National Record Store Day this Saturday (April 13), Leeds-based manufacturer Sound Leisure reports a 500% increase in sales of vinyl playing jukeboxes, in the past two years.

One of only two jukebox manufacturers (the other in the US), Sound Leisure launched the world’s only 7” vinyl jukebox two years ago and customers include Hollywood A-listers, royalty and premiership footballers.

Paying homage to the classic 1940s and 50s designs, the company has just finished building the first of its new Vinyl Long Player jukeboxes - championing the LP album, which are being shipped out this week to Japan, as well as customers in France and the UK.

Managing director, Chris Black, whose father Alan started the company 41 years ago from his hobby of fixing friend’s radio’s, commented: “People thought that Dad was buying into a dying dream and called him crazy when he formed the business in 1978, but demand rocketed.

“Our first customers were Bluechip companies who were installing them into bars. We then found that older people who could remember the classic machines and who understood what quality was were buying a jukebox and installing them in their homes. Since the launch of our vinyl players our customers are much younger, with people buying for themselves or for presents, Jukeboxes have become a lifestyle choice.

“Of course, there are now hundreds of ways to enjoy music in your home or business, but there’s nothing quite like choosing a song, watching the LP or 45 rise from the basket and hearing that record play. The theatre that comes with a jukebox is difficult to replicate with anything else.”

The company has had to adapt to the ever-changing demands from consumers, Chris remembers when just four years into the business the CD was launched and everything had to change. He adds: “We honestly thought with the launch of CD that would be it for us. But, as we do now, we adapted immediately and found new ways to diversify. The CD jukebox was born and remains one of our best sellers along with digital versions.

“Each time a new format comes along, we’ve designed a jukebox to match. The new vinyl machines even have Bluetooth so it’s a modern twist on a classic. We have successfully moved with the times.

“I believe this time the vinyl boom is here to stay. Artists are releasing their albums on vinyl and the machines are proving so popular we’ve got a two-month waiting list.”

4.2m vinyl records were sold in the UK last year, compared to just 205,000 in 2007 as more popular artists are releasing their music on vinyl. And with 12,000 albums released on vinyl in 2018, LP sales remain at their highest level since the start of the 1990s; one in 10 of all physical album purchases are now on vinyl format.

Now with 85 members of staff, Sound Leisure reports a £5m turnover and in excess of 100,000 jukeboxes have been produced and shipped to 27 countries since the company was formed.

Customers include private homes, care homes, hotels, bars, retail stores and even St Pancras station has one that is free to use by travellers. Over the years the company has worked with some of the world’s largest brands and currently is manufacturing a limited edition machine for (Apple Corp.) in a ‘Sgt Peppers’ jukebox design. 

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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