Alliance Française hosted an exhibition of 150 iconic South African LP cover designs in September 2016 at which Rob Allingham, Gallo Music archive manager from the ’80s to 2006 and an avid record collector, presented a history of the record industry. The first patentable and proficient method for recording sound was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. By 1900, an estimated 3-million LPs were being sold annually; by 1920, annual sales had reached 100-million. SA’s market took a little longer to mature. By 1969, South Africans had bought 7.5-million LPs, of which 20% were by local artists. The arrival of cassettes in 1971 and CDs in 1988 flattened LP sales. Eddie Veale, a master acoustician and sound designer since the late ’60s, identifies three main drivers of change: the quest for sonic excellence, the need to increase the number of recording tracks and the rush for digital solutions. "Digital is great for archiving and moving material around … [but] humans are analogue and very com...

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