Though not a factor in the year-end charts, pop and R&B albums that wouldn’t have bothered with the format not so long ago are ending up getting lavish vinyl releases now. In 2013, buying Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE on vinyl involved ordering a bootleg; the same originally went for Beyoncé’s Beyoncé. Last year, following 2016’s Blonde vinyl pressing, Ocean sold a vinyl edition of his visual album Endless on Cyber Monday. In December, Lorde announced a vinyl release for her sophomore release, Melodrama. Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed film Lady Bird takes place in 2002, when vinyl sales were deep in the doldrums; its soundtrack, of course, is currently available on vinyl.
The reissue and box-set machines also continued to churn out vinyl. If you wanted to spin Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time or the Predator soundtrack on wax, 2017 was your year. The Velvet Underground, Johnny Cash, and George Harrison all got new vinyl box sets, among many others. These types of massive and costly releases, often including material that’s already available, help explain why it’s still so easy for many to question the sustainability of the vinyl recovery after all this time. As today’s record buyers load up on canonical acts, ubiquitous hits, and novelty soundtracks, they may not have enough money left over to support up-and-coming artists.