By Lars Brandle
LONDON (Billboard) - Physical singles may be losing the war against digital formats, but the U.K. market has found an unlikely hero to lead the fight: good, old-fashioned, 7-inch vinyl.
Fueled predominantly by independent labels and alternative groups like Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs, the format -- also known as a 45 in its pre-'90s heyday -- is experiencing a mini-revival in the United Kingdom. In recent years, labels have increasingly added limited edition versions of 7-inch singles to their armory, which are targeted at "indie" rock consumers as trendy collectibles.
The resurgence is backed up by figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a trade group, that show 2005 trade deliveries of 7-inch singles topped 1.87 million units, a 10-year high, accounting for 3.5% of all singles shipments.
Stuart Allan, rock and pop singles buyer for U.K. retailer HMV, says having a single out on 7-inch vinyl is akin to a "badge of honor" for today's rock bands. More than 50% of all U.K. CD single releases in 2005 featured a 7-inch vinyl version, according to the BPI's "Statistical Handbook."
Hang on to your turntables!!