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Vinyl Record Sales Surpass CDs Bought For First Time In 30 Years

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MORE vinyl records than CDs are sold in Spain nowadays – something not seen since 1991 when the former was falling out of fashion and the latter still a luxury to many.

True to the notion that, if you keep anything for long enough, it becomes all the rage again, a report by Promusicae reveals that the old-time 12” and 7” turntable discs are now at their most popular in over 30 years.

In fact, they make up well over half – about 54% – of the market for non-digital music, or sounds with a physical ‘support’.

Sales of vinyl totalled €13.6 million, increasing by 25.6%, in the first half of 2022 – and, nowadays, they carry a very high price tag in recognition of their ‘vintage’ nature.

Overall, sales of recorded music – physical supports such as CDs, records and cassettes, and also digital supports, such as downloads or subscriptions to platforms – totalled €191.5m between January and June 2022 inclusive, rising by 12.4% on the previous six months. 

Digital, or intangible formats are still the most common among consumers, but vinyl is seeing a massive comeback: Around 1.6 million old-style records were bought in Spain in 2021, a market worth around €25m.

CDs are still sold in mainstream stores – in fact, they’re the only ‘physical’ music support you’re likely to find outside of a specialist record shop (photo: Recordhead.biz)

Back then, sales of these earliest music supports had already risen by 32% on the previous year’s figures.

Rewinding barely a decade, fewer than 140,000 vinyls were sold in Spain in the year 2013 – but they were still making the transition from ‘out of date’ to ‘retro gems’, as the end of their heyday was still too recent for them to be sought-after goods among anyone but serious collectors.

By the early 1990s, singles released were beginning to be retailed in cassette format rather than 7” vinyl, with these already having gradually overtaken 12” albums in the previous 20 years or so; common practice in the late 1980s and early 1990s was to buy 7” singles where these were cheaper, and then record them onto blank tapes.

Cassette tapes had almost entirely replaced vinyl by the late 1980s, and were still the main recorded music format until CD players were in common use and their prices came down (photo: Malcolm Tyrrell/Wikimedia Commons)

The ease with which vinyls could become scratched and cease to play properly, and the fact that they could not be used in a car stereo, meant cassette tapes became mainstream.

Indeed, ‘old’ vinyl records were routinely destroyed by DJs in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the sound of their rhythmic and deliberate scratching on a turntable became almost de rigueur in hip-hop, electronic and techno music.

CDs and CD players, a novelty in the mid-1980s, remained expensive, and were still considered a luxury by many until the late 1990s.

Serious ‘retro’ music collectors would be horrified to learn how vinyl records were routinely destroyed on DJ turntables to create that essential ‘scratching’ sound in 1980s’ hip-hop tunes (photo: Experimedia.net)

Favoured over cassette tapes due to their indestructible nature – a tape getting ‘chewed up’ by its player or tangling up meant an album was no more, unless it was still on the bestseller shelves, since online shopping had not been invented yet – CDs had more or less replaced all other types of music support by the turn of the Millennium.

A brief experiment with ‘mini-discs’ in the 1990s fell flat almost before it started.

The past 10 to 15 years has seen music downloads become the main purchasing format, although physical supports are still widely retailed – practically always in CD format, except in specialist record stores.

CDs are still being sold – in fact, 4.4 million were bought in Spain in 2021 – but their decline has been dramatic; Promusicae says exactly 20 years earlier, the annual CD sales figures were closer to 79 million.

Sales of CDs fell again in 2022, by around 20.8%, to €11.1m, or about 44% of the total ‘tangible’ record-buying market.

If you had one of these in the late 1990s or turn of the Millennium, you were at the cutting edge of technology. CD ‘walkmans’, or ‘personal’ CD players, are still being manufactured and remain popular (photo: Philips.es)

At an average price of about €10 to €12, depending upon popularity and recency of the artist or album, this means only around a million CDs would have been bought in Spain this year so far.

In fact, anyone living in a countryside location in Spain might have seen more CDs hanging from trees than in shops: Farmers use these to keep insects and animals away from their fruit crop, as they reflect the sun and blind them.

‘Intangible’ music sales have risen continually, though: Promusicae says 2022 say growth of 14.6%, totalling €166.5m.

But with the ‘digital music age’ came illegal downloads and other forms of piracy, which has long posed a threat to the industry.

Along with the loss of sales income to producers and royalties to artists through piracy, soaring costs of primary materials for making physical music supports, coupled with much higher distribution charges, are also having a negative impact on the industry’s future, Promusicae warns.

Anyone who was anyone had one of these in the 1980s and 1990s – complete with orange sponge headphones. Running out of batteries for your Sony Walkman was always a major crisis (photo: iStock)

Still, downloads or streaming platforms make up 87% of turnover in the recorded music sector – compared with 85% in 2021.

Streaming accounts for 81.2%, having increased by 15.2% in just one year – largely through either subscriber platforms or free ones financed by adverts.

Of the latter, about 17.1% of music listened to is via YouTube videos, also financed through advertising and accounting for about €28.5m in sales.

Well over 80% of recorded music sold in Spain in 2022 is downloaded rather than in physical format (photo: wikiHow)

Surprisingly, in Spain, only 1.7% of the digital music market comes from ‘permanent’ downloads of singles, albums and videos, such as via iTunes or similar, and this figure includes those downloaded as mobile phone ringtones.

Yet, across the board, the recorded music market is shrinking – having started to show real recovery since it fell into crisis about 20 years ago, largely fuelled by piracy, this stability is beginning to reverse.

Promusicae chairman Antonio Guiasola says the digital music market showed 30% growth in 2019, but the pandemic years led to a major drop – to 19% growth in 2020 and 20% in 2021.

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Ed Sheeran Holidays In Ibiza With Snorlax Ahead Of New 'Pokémon Single' Release

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BRITISH pop-rocker Ed Sheeran has been partying in Ibiza – with a fluffy friend – just as his latest single bursts onto the scene.

The Suffolk-born artist behind Shape of You has been working with the Pokémon Company and his new track, Celestial, comes complete with a video entirely dedicated to the animated series.

Ed Sheeran takes Pokémon cutie Snorlax on a trip to Ibiza ahead of his new record release. Celestial is a homage to the artist’s favourite childhood characters (both pictures by Ed Sheeran on Instagram – @teddysphotos)

And joining him on his flight to the Balearic Islands was Snorlax, the cute blue-and-white character from the show.

Ed’s travelmate is a furry one, the size of a small child, and pictured on his Instagram page on his lap on the coach, used as a cushion, and next to him on the plane.

Originally from the eastern UK village of Framlingham – famous for its castle, which Ed dedicated one of his earlier singles to – and where he has been spotted in the past landing his helicopter on the golf course, the artist, 31, says he started collecting Pokémon cards when they became ‘all the rage’ in about 1998.

The cards were the ‘latest thing’ for his class of seven-year-olds at Framlingham primary school, and were followed worldwide by the TV show.

Ed says he ‘used to try to record it on the same VHS video tape every week’.

On the clip for Celestial, Sheeran is seen interacting with the magical world of the Pokémon characters as they breathe fire, water and even electricity, moving around with Snorlax and the series’ and video game’s most famous creature, Pikachu.

According to the self-confessed Real Madrid superfan, ‘obsessed is just a euphemism’ for his level of adoration for Pokémon, and that ‘now, at 31’, he still has ‘the same colour Game Boy’ and still plays Pokémon Silver on long-haul flights.

The games and series were his ‘escapism’ as a child, and gave him a gateway into a ‘fantasy world that just seemed to go on and on’.

As an adult, Pokémon represents a form of ‘nostalgia’ that ‘makes him feel like a child again’, Ed says.

His latest crop of Instagram pictures from the day before Celestial was released on Thursday shows him not just on a plane, but dancing, sunbathing, and on a boat with Snorlax in Ibiza, including short videos of the pair enjoying the famous nightclub island.

“Snorlax needed a holiday,” Ed wrote as an Instagram video caption.

Celestial out tomorrow. X”

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Shakira Breaks Her Silence Over Piqué Split: “Making Music Is My Psychiatrist”

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COLOMBIAN rock legend Shakira has been interviewed for the first time since her rumoured split from long-term partner, FC Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué, giving a frank and emotionally-open account of her life since Spain’s first-ever FIFA World Cup win in 2010.

Shakira talks about how her music-writing is her therapy, about her ‘sacrifice for love’ and her heartbreak over the loss of her 12-year relationship (photo: Europa FM)

Having Spanish roots herself – her mother Nidia Ripoll’s grandparents are from Catalunya – it seemed as though making the move to Barcelona to be with the love of her life and future father of her children would be almost a homegoing, and the brand-new young family was happy there for many years.

But it involved Shakira, now 45, having to let her career take a back seat even before motherhood came along.

World Cup 2010: Where it all changed

Rewinding back to to South Africa 12 years ago, when the Barranquilla-born artist – a household name in Latin America and the USA since she was 17 – composed and performed the World Cup theme track, Waka Waka, rumours had been rife about an estrangement between Shakira and her boyfriend of over 11 years, Antonio, son of former Argentine president Fernando de la Rúa.

This alone came as a shock to fans, since the couple had been inseparable – to the point where Shakira refused to perform with anyone other than Antonio on the video for Underneath Your Clothes in 2002, saying it had been written for him and was ‘too intimate’ to act out with another man.

Shakira with Antonio de la Rúa on her video for Underneath Your Clothes in 2002. She said she wrote the song for the then love of her life and felt unable to perform the clip with any other man. The couple’s split was confirmed in 2010 (photo: Screenshots from official video)

Soon after, speculation was rife that Shakira and Barça midfielder Piqué, now 35, were together, but this was not confirmed for several months when they were finally seen in an emotional embrace at a Barça-Osasuna match.

They have never married, and Shakira revealed a few years back that this was a way of keeping the spontaneity and romance alive – that they had to ‘work’ to keep each other as complacency was not an option.

By then, though, they had two sons, Milan, now nine and Sasha, now seven.

One of the official pictures from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, showing Gerard Piqué, then 23, and Shakira, then 33, with the trophy Spain was taking home for the first time in history. Shakira composed and performed the soundtrack for the tournament, Waka Waka (photo from Futboltotal.com.mx)

Shakira put her career on hold when the boys came along with almost exactly two years difference at the beginning of 2013 and 2015, embracing her new life as mum with pride, excitement and an outpouring of love – Gerard, too, has always been besotted with his kids, and both of them became FC Barcelona fan club members almost as soon as they were born.

But according to a recent interview in Elle Spain, Shakira had slowed her career right down long before the children were born.

One of us would have to sacrifice our careers and move abroad”

At the time, she was still living in Miami, where she had been based for years with Antonio de la Rúa.

“Gerard wanted to play football and win titles,” Shakira admits.

Shakira and Piqué soon after their relationship became official. The artist reveals it was not clear at the time even which continent they would live on – one of the two would need to park their careers, or put it on the back bench, for them to be together

“Either he would have to break off his contract with FC Barcelona and move to the USA with me, where my career was, or I would have to do all that instead [give up her career and move to Barcelona]. Like this, one of us had to make the effort and make the sacrifice.”

At the time, among other major projects, Shakira had been a judge on The Voice and had been producing up to an album a year at her busiest.

“So it was me who did it. I put my career on the back burner and came to Spain to support him so he could play football and win titles,” the singer explains.

She makes it clear she did not feel pushed or pressured into it, and that the couple had discussed it thoroughly.

“It was an act of love,” Shakira confesses.

The star couple, who share a birthday – February 2, but a decade apart – show off their first child together. Milan was born just days before their own birthdays in 2013, and was not even home from hospital before he had a miniature Barça shirt made for him. Piqué’s granddad enrolled both his great-grandsons as FC Barcelona fan club members the day they were born – reportedly ‘to set them off on the right track in life’

Now that their split has been confirmed by both parties, and Piqué has been seen with a woman the media claims is his new partner, Clara Chía, it is proving to be an incredibly difficult time for the former couple who, it seems, are still close and would like to remain friends if they can.

“This is one of the hardest and darkest times of my life,” says Shakira, who shares a birthday with her ex – February 2, although 10 years apart – but along with the children, her career as singer, composer and musician is her therapy and escapism.

“Writing music is like going to a psychiatrist – except cheaper,” she says.

“Sometimes all this feels like a bad dream and that I’m going to wake up at any moment.”

Is Shakira leaving Spain?

“Independently of how things ended or how Gerard and I feel as a former couple, he’s the father of my children – we have a job to do for these two amazing little boys, and I have faith that we’ll discover what’s best for their future and the fairest solution for everyone,” Shakira told reporters.

But it does look as though Spain is going to lose one of its favourite and best-known international residents: If joint childcare arrangements allow it, her intention is to return to live in the USA.

Her father William grew up there – in New York – although his parents were Lebanese, and his daughter’s music has often been inspired by her Middle Eastern roots: Arabic verses in Ojos Así/Eyes Like Yours, and her belly-dancing prowess which she first showed off in public to great acclaim aged three, are good examples.

Shakira in 2019, at the presentation of her charity, the Bare Feet Foundation

In reality, she is only a quarter Colombian, half-Lebanese and a quarter Spanish, hence her surname of Mebarak Ripoll, but she was born and lived in Barranquilla until she was 23 and runs the Bare Feet Foundation (Fundación Pies Descalzos), named after her 1996 album, which works to get Colombian children in particular who are from deprived backgrounds into education.

This is just one of her many actions in charity, and which include donating €13.5m to Haïti’s Hurricane Matthew victims in October 2016.

Paparazzi and tax dispute

Shakira says she is having real trouble at present keeping her children out of the spotlight, admitting that there is ‘nowhere except her own house’ where she can hid from the paparazzi.

“We can’t go for a walk in the park like a normal family, or go out for an ice-cream or any other family activity without the paparazzi following us,” says the artist, who has appealed to the media to ‘respect their privacy’ and ‘give them some space’.

She says she is also being followed because of a high-profile dispute with the Spanish tax authorities, all of which is making her feel resentful at a painful time in her personal life.

In happier times – Shakira and Piqué about three years ago with their sons, Sasha (left) and Milan (right), in a photo posted by Gerard Piqué on his Instagram account

Shakira has rejected an ‘offer’ by the treasury to pay €14.5 million in income tax plus interest in order to avoid a suspended prison sentence, after a court decided she had been tax resident in Spain between 2011 and 2014 and demanded she pay her dues for the ‘missing’ years.

She has refused to pay ‘on principle’, since she insists she is innocent, and maintains that she was still legally resident and tax resident in Miami at the time due to winding up her work across the pond, and being on world tours.

Spanish law dictates that if tax evasion – deliberate or otherwise – exceeds €120,000, it is automatically a criminal, rather than a civil, offence, although a custodial term of under two years does not have to be served by a person with no criminal record and it is rare that a longer one would be awarded.

Shakira is one of a handful of celebrities whose work takes them all over the world and who have lived in Spain for specific periods leading to disputes over where, and when, they were tax residents, and problems when their tax-paying structure from a previous country clashed with laws in Spain.

She cites Portuguese football team captain and ex-Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who maintained his structure set up whilst in Manchester, UK was legal there but found not to be in Spain; Xabi Alonso, and Neymar.

Pictures of Shakira and Piqué taken in late September and reproduced in various media, in Barcelona (photo: The Grosby Group)

“But it’s also happened with other, anonymous taxpayers,” Shakira says.

The general norm is that a person is considered tax resident in Spain if they spend 183 days of a calendar year in the country.

Anyone whose income is from more than one source and below a specified amount is required to make an annual declaration, normally through a gestor or financial advisor, who handles the entire file and simply requests the customer send in certain documents; the minimum threshold of €12,000 means most State pensioners and workers on an average salary are more likely to get a refund or break even, but low-income residents with a sole earnings source are often inclined to make a declaration despite not being obliged to, on the basis they may well get money returned to them.

Shakira was a coach on The Voice in the USA before moving full-time to Spain, when baby Milan was nearly two. She insists she only spent 118 days in Spain the year he was born – here, he joins her on set for the Miami-based reality show

Spain’s government is currently considering increasing the minimum threshold.

In Shakira’s case, her appeal and refusal to accept the €14.5m offer is about ‘principle’ and ‘justice’ rather than ability to pay – other celebrities in a similar situation have agreed to settle the demand in order to close the issue and get on with their lives.

Foreign accountants specialising in international tax law, or accountants based in Spain, are always the best option for ensuring personal and corporate tax is paid at the correct amount, neither more nor less than is due.

Unpaid taxes and other dues have a four-year limit, meaning any discrepancies found will automatically be filed and no action taken if they have not been notified in the previous four years.

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World's Top Hospitals Include 15 From Spain

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A RANKING of the world’s best hospitals released by Newsweek includes 15 from Spain in the top 250.

Published annually, the complete list includes 2,200 hospitals in 27 countries, with three new nations entering for the first time – Colombia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

La Paz in Madrid – Spain’s top-ranked hospital according to Newsweek (photo: Luis García/Wikimedia Commons)

Spain’s best medical centres, according to the classification, are found throughout the mainland, from north to south.

Six of them are in the top 100, and a total of seven in the top 150 – a section led by the USA with 33.

All the top three are in the United States – Mayo Clinic-Rochester, Cleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital – and the top-ranked in Spain is Madrid’s Hospital La Paz, at 52.

Eight in total are in the capital, including the third-best in the country, the 12 de Octubre University Hospital, at number 66.

Another three are in Catalunya, one in Pamplona (Navarra), and one each in Valencia and Sevilla.

Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic is second in Spain and number 63 in the world, then Madrid’s Gregorio Marañón General University Hospital is at 75.

The Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona is ranked 81st in the world, and the Clínica Universidad de Navarra – which also has a branch in Madrid – comes in at 86.

Madrid’s Ramón y Cajal Hospital is 141st in the world.

After number 150 – which is, again, in the USA, being the University of California-Davis Medical Center – the ranking combines the next 100 into a single block, listed as 151-250.

In this, Madrid’s Hospital Clínico San Carlos and Barcelona’s La Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Madrid’s Ruber International, Jiménez Díaz Foundation University Hospital, and Puerta de Hierro, appear along with Sevilla’s Virgen del Rocío and Valencia’s La Fe.

Some of the hospitals ranked much higher on certain specialist areas, however.

For cardiology, La Paz is 16th in the world and the Gregorio Marañón 26th, and they figure 33rd and 41st on earth respectively for endocrinology.

Madrid hospitals also score very highly for neurosurgery – the 12 de Octubre (40th), the Gregorio Marañón (45th), and La Paz (68th) – and for neurology, where La Paz is 35th, the San Carlos is 85th, and the Ramón y Cajal 107th.

The latter hospital is, in fact, named after a world-famous neurologist who made ground-breaking discoveries about the nervous system.

In pneumology, the Gregorio Marañón is 17th in the world and the 12 de Octubre is 32nd, whilst La Paz is 23rd on earth for oncology and the 12 de Octubre is 49th.

La Paz is 21st in the world for traumatology and orthopaedic surgery, and 53rd for paediatrics.

A Madrid children’s hospital, the Niño Jesús, which does not appear in the overall top 250 ranking, is still at number 30 in the world for its paediatric care.

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