Photo/IllutrationThe jacket of Sony’s new vinyl release of Billy Joel’s "52nd Street" (Provided by Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The vinyl revival gathers apace with music industry giant Sony's announcement of its return to the format after 29 years.

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. (SME), will release its first records this century on March 21 with titles by popular U.S. singer and piano player Billy Joel and Japanese musician Eiichi Otaki.

The artists are not arbitrary choices as they were also the first to release the world’s first commercial CDs in 1982.

“(Vinyl titles) are gaining popularity because their jacket designs are impressive and they allow listeners to more deeply enjoy music as a little extra effort is necessary to play records,” said an SME public relations official. “We will make more titles available in the future.”

Demand for analog records is growing in the United States and elsewhere across the globe.

In Japan, 1.063 million vinyl discs were produced in 2017, 10 times the figure in 2009, the year production reached its nadir, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

Responding to the resurgence in demand, Sony started selling its first record player model in eight years in 2016.

Joel’s record, to be marketed at 3,800 yen ($35), excluding tax, will be his classic 1978 album "52nd Street," which includes nine tracks, while Otaki’s disc will feature his hit song "Yume de Aetara" sung by five singers or groups. It will retail for 2,300 yen, excluding tax.

Both titles will be sold in limited numbers.