While overall physical sales of music have seen a massive decline in recent years as more listeners transition to streaming, vinyl has been making a remarkable comeback, with its sales almost doubling in the past several years. Here we look at some of the reasons behind this unprecedented resurgence in popularity.
Guest Post by Jessica Kane
Sometimes it seems that no one buys music anymore. A digital download has replaced going to the music store and picking up a CD for most people. As a result CD sales have been slowly dropping over the years. It isn't the case that no one wants physical media though. Vinyl record sales have nearly doubled in the last few years.
The Record Is the Ultimate Music Format
There is something about a record. The vinyl and cardboard are fantastic to hold and smell. Slide the record out of its sleeve. Place it on the turntable and lower the needle. Hear that first hiss. Now there is music. Wonderful. Alice Cooper was right. The kids are tired of just buying air.
A record sleeve is large, the artwork can be properly enjoyed without needing a magnifying glass. The record has an organic crackle and warmth to the sound. This is something that showcases its own personality.
CDs Are Rarely Played
A modern music lover might buy a CD. They take it home, put it into the computer and rip those tracks. The CD is left to gather dust on a shelf. Listening to a CD or listening to a ripped MP3 track is musically similar. The track is perfect, as only a digital copy can be. There is no warmth or personality to the tracks. Why make that extra effort to find the CD, clean it, and play it?
A record requires you to select the record. You are actively thinking about your music. It's a far more introspective experience. You are also more likely to enjoy the entire side of the record at a time. CDs urge you to skip around. By listening to the entire side you experience the music on a deeper level than just a radio favorite.
Buying and Selling and Saving
Once you have a record, it's yours. You can sell it to anyone you like, for any price they are willing to pay. You can buy more records for your collection just as easily, from anyone willing to sell. CDs don't keep any value, they don't save very well. A digital download is never truly your property to do with as you please.
You can save your records for years. Unlike a CD or a tape, a record does not deteriorate. They will always be playable. They become heirlooms that the generations after will enjoy.
Records have a warmth and vitality that CDs cannot match. Some believe it is because they have better mastering. Most records feature a vinyl specific wide dynamic range. Others think it has to do with how the human ear functions. No matter the cause, a record player provides the best audio experience an audiophile can get.
When you say you love music and have a vinyl record collection behind you, people take it seriously. There is just something about a record that demands respect from those who love music. Anyone can have a MP3 playlist. With just a few clicks they can toss together a collection of nearly any kind of music imaginable. It takes time and taste to curate a record collection! First, one must track down the pressing. Then, there is the art to consider. Some bands only produce a limited number of any one record. Maybe you will be able to get one, maybe not. Maybe that one song was just released once and you will spend some time searching for it. It is a satisfying experience in itself that can never come from even the biggest MP3 collection.
Vinyl has its quirks. But it also has a romance and an enduring quality that cannot be replaced by any other format. Perhaps it is the smell, or the ceremony of listening to it. Maybe it's the art or the long history behind the format. Whatever it is, people respond.
Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables.