The first rule of any criminal investigation is "follow the money," and with streaming revenue bringing in fractions of a penny per stream while expensive vinyl sales continue to climb, it's no wonder that criminals have followed suit.
As reported by Billboard, this week police broke up a massive CD and vinyl smuggling ring in Europe allegedly helmed by an unidentified 60-year-old German man. (It's kind of a Walter White situation, except with counterfeit Led Zeppelin vinyl instead of meth.)
...investigators raided a large storage facility filled with more than 8,000 boxes containing two million illegally manufactured CDs, DVDs, and vinyl , which the accused had evidently produced in Poland and other Eastern European countries. According to police, the illicit goods weighed several tons [and was worth over $31 million]. - Billboard.com
European authorities are insisting that they'll continue to clamp down on illegal vinyl, which they see as a rising threat, and I have to assume that means there's either a parallel rise in illegal vinyl sales in the U.S. or that there will be soon, which very much feels like a full circle moment in the history of modern music piracy.
It wasn't too long ago that the music industry saw CD bootleggers as their primary scourge, then that anger shifted entirely to uploaders and downloaders, and now, as vinyl sales continue to rise, we could soon be reading reports of police seizing U-Haul trucks filled with knockoff Rihanna vinyl.
At a time of such radical change, I suppose it's at least comforting to know that some things never change.
By Nathan S, occasional keyboard hitter and beard maintainer. This is his Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram