Music is digital, streaming apps such as Spotify and Apple Music occupy millions of subscribers across the globe as the No.1 way of consuming music.
Prior to these apps, music used to be downloaded in MP3 form. These could then be used to play via iTunes or other media playback apps.
When vinyl records started their resurgence 20 years many record companies decided to add options to download a digital version of the EP or LP along with the physical copy.
In the last 5 years, we don’t see many of these any with MP3s becoming retro in a way. In this piece, we look at digital downloads for vinyl records, when they appeared and why they aren’t common at all any longer.
Why do vinyl records come with digital download codes?
The way music is consumed is evolving with technology and trends. 20 years ago digital music was booming with Apple releasing its first iPod in Oct 2001. In the following years, we’d see an explosion in the way we could access music.
iTunes allowed consumers to download their favorite artist’s songs back catalog and store it in a single place. This was all done with individual files called MP3s.
These would then be playable on compatible devices, mobile phones, MP3 players, speakers using USBs, burning CDs, etc.
When vinyl records started to become popular again it was often the case that a digital download could be obtained with the purchase of the record. This was enabling the music fan to get a digital and physical copy of the record. As vinyl records aren’t the most portable it was a way of the music fan being able to listen to the record on the move.
Why don’t all new vinyls come with digital downloads?
In the last 5-10 years music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have taken over MP3s. It’s rare for a consumer to be downloading digital versions of songs and albums with subscription services allowing people to access millions of songs at any time.
Due to the way trends have changed record companies have stopped adding downloadable codes to the vinyl records as it’s just not really needed.
Every now and then you’ll get a release with a digitally downloadable version – sometimes this is for promotional purchases with the download and record sale going towards chart positions.
How do you know if you have a digital download?
When buying you’ll see ‘digital download’ as a sticker on the plastic album sleeve outer. Within the record sleeve itself, you may have a bit of card with the download code and how-to redeem steps.
If buying online you’ll see ‘digital download’ within the description, you may also get an email confirming the download is available.