MANILA - In a music retailer inside a posh Makati City mall, several Filipino music titles on vinyl format compete for space beside hundreds of the latest CD releases.
The store started to make space three years ago for these vinyl records, a format that has seen a resurgence driven by the young market, audiophiles, and millennials hungry for nostalgia.
Two to three copies of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) records are sold at this Astrovision branch everyday, store staff Gina Barin said.
One of the country's biggest record labels, PolyEast Records, joined the craze in 2012 by releasing vinyl versions of Filipino classics in its catalog.
From the modest release of three titles to test the market, PolyEast now sells 25 OPM titles.
"We released more the next years due to higher demand and good feedback from buyers," Richard Calderon, vinyl project director at PolyEast Records, told ABS-CBN News.
The records, pressed in Germany, were initially sold at P1,200 each, but import costs raised the price tag to P1,500, said Calderon.
PolyEast produces about 500 to 1,000 pieces of each title, depending on the artist's popularity. There are plans to release more titles in the coming years, said Calderon.
"There is growth in the vinyl market, but I see it as a slow growth. It's a niche market," he said.
Currently, vinyl accounts for 10 percent of PolyEast's overall sales. The number could grow to 20 percent if demand is sustained, Calderon said.
He believes the growth of vinyl depends on the continued patronage of the young market, and the availability of affordable turntables.
These two factors are the bread and butter of Satchmi, a hip lifestyle brand founded by two businessmen in their 30s.
Satchmi's first product was a plug and play, entry-level vinyl player called Motorino. They introduced the player, together with a few vinyl re-issues, to bazaar-goers in Metro Manila in 2011.
The brand also sold imported records online and hosted "vinyl day" events featuring the country's hottest artists to spur interest among the young crowd.
"We were able to open this new market of young people and they were really interested," said one of the owners, Edric Chua.
Satchmi opened its first store in one of the biggest malls along EDSA in 2014. Aside from selling about 2,000 records, the store also offers turntables, film rolls, and coffee. A second store in Quezon City is set to open this year.
While Satchmi's records are all sealed and brand new, another quaint store on a more quiet side of the city is contributing to the growth of vinyl through secondhand records.
"We try to specialize more on original pressings and vintage originals," said Arbie Won, the DJ-owner of Treskul Records and Cafe in Mandaluyong.
Won also started his vinyl business online, selling records from his personal collection. Demand for more rare, vintage titles grew within months, prompting Won and his partners to convert a cramped second floor of an internet cafe into a record store.
As more records and turntables piled up in the store, Treskul moved to a bigger space next door in 2015.
Won's shop now carries about 3,000 records from various genres to cater to a wide range of record buyers.
"When we started, it used to be over 30, middle-aged buyers. Lately, we have customers as young as 8 to 10 years old, and high school kids who are into classic rock and jazz," he said.
'CONNOISSEUR OF MUSIC'
Digital formats such as streaming and MP3s are still the cheapest and most convenient way to listen to music, but vinyl will always have its own subculture, Satchmi's Chua said.
"Instead of the instant mami consumerism mindset, it's more like you're a connoisseur of music and you want to know more about the culture," he said.
Won believes picking the more expensive vinyl over CD or MP3 is both an aesthetic decision and sound quality preference, with a hint of nostalgia.
"Maybe music lovers missed the physical aspect of listening to a record. Playing a vinyl record is ritualistic because you're forced to sit down and listen to it," Won said.
"Nothing beats having music on vinyl."