Getting back into the groove: behind the surprising resurgence of vinyl records
If you’re an OOHS student reading this, chances are you keep most of your music on your phone. You might not buy albums at all, instead subscribing to a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music. However, this is by no means true of everyone. In recent years, a movement towards vinyl records over more modern musical formats has begun to take root.
According to www.amazon.com, sales of vinyl records are up 745 percent since 2008, and according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (the organization responsible for collecting this data) global sales totaled $171 million in 2012—a 52 percent increase from 2011. Lest one think that old people have simply become more generous spenders, it’s worth mentioning that youth ages 18-25 are the main driving force behind this shift.
So why is it that vinyl is becoming popular again?
“I think that a lot of young people are sort of rediscovering all these old records their parents had, and going ‘oh, a lot of this stuff is pretty cool,’ ” Greg Hall, owner of local record store Used Kids, said.
One could view this movement as a reaction against the gradual digitization of music, in which many people just pay for audio files as opposed to a physical item. Vinyl records are big; they present album artwork at a far larger and more detailed size than any other musical format; and they often come with very extensive liner notes, which list not just lyrics but the complete personnel involved. A vinyl record gives the feeling of music as a tangible object, which many people react positively to.
A look at some of the elaborate packaging that attracts people to records; in this case, a pop-up gatefold and colored vinyl.
“I believe vinyl albums have made a resurgence because people crave music that they can hold,” Daniel Zeiter, a junior with an extensive record collection inherited from his parents, said. “There’s something special in the way you put a record on a turntable and carefully set the needle.”
The biggest hurtle for many people trying to start up a record collection of their own is simple—the sheer cost. Turntables can run well into the thousands, and that’s not even counting the speakers one has to buy to go with them. For this reason, many companies have tried to sweeten the deal, either by offering ‘all-in-one’ devices, that contain both turntable and speakers, or by including download codes with records that give people an mp3 copy of the album as well. It’s hard to imagine that these added perks aren’t contributing to vinyl’s current popularity.
To see what a lucrative market vinyl records have become, one need only visit the local Barnes & Noble or Urban Outfitters, both of which display records very prominently in their music sections. Indeed, Urban Outfitters has become almost as well known for their vinyl as their clothing—though with most of their albums priced at $20 or over, the task of accumulating any sort of sizable collection can seem a bit daunting.
However, one shouldn't take such steep prices as discouragement. Many local record stores such as Used Kids, Lost Weekend, or Records Per Minute offer vinyl for as little as a dollar per record, along with various reasonably-priced pieces of audio equipment—including some of the ‘all-in-ones’ mentioned above. Keeping all that in mind, why not give vinyl a spin yourself?