Vinyl records are usually thought of as antiquities owned more by the fans of the 1960s than any other demographic. Or at least that was the case until a few years ago, when record sales, without explanation, began to rise again.
In 2007, vinyl reached its tipping point, to quote author Malcolm Gladwell. Disc Jockeys and record collectors spurred the vinyl epidemic; ABC News reports that vinyl sales went up by over 90 percent from 2007 to 2009 and have continued to rise since.
Junior Corey Deogracias contributes to this trend, having collected over 100 records himself. Part of the reason for his affinity, he said, is the tangibility of records. To him, the ability to carry a record is worth more than a song on a computer.
“Having music as a file is okay,” Deogracias said. “But having something that’s actually in your hands is even better. It’s like you’re holding a little piece of history.”
Mike Contreras, a clerk at the record store Indy CD and Vinyl, said he has also observed the trend with similar reasoning.
“You can’t hold an MP3 in your hands,” he said. “It’s more than just the music; having the vinyl itself gives an even better feeling than just a file.”
Contreras said he also finds the bonus attachments of vinyl to add to the incentive of buying it. With the purchase of vinyl, there are more collectables than with CDs or a music download. “Buying records comes with a lot of cool stuff,” he said. “You can get the liner notes, posters, and at this point most records come with a code so you can get the MP3s for the songs as well.”
In addition to the bonuses received from the purchase of vinyls, Deogracias said he believes the listening experience is much more satisfying with record players too.
“The whole listening experience is different. The fact that it’s played in stereo to the whole room as opposed to just your ears or one place gives it a whole new feel and vibe,” Deogracias said. “And you can’t forget the crackles and pops that come with old age.”
Junior Connor Hitchcock, another record enthusiast, has similar feelings as Deogracias when it comes to the competition between CD and vinyl sales. “It’s different because you can’t just listen to it in the background,” he said. “You actually have to take the time to sit down and take the effort to really hear the song.”
Hitchcock also attributes the rise in vinyl sales to the historical value of the music form. In other words, the rarity of the vinyl increases its popularity. “The fact that it’s not normal gives it more value,” he said. “It gives it more of a vintage feel and brings back a feeling you really can’t get in any other way.”
This phenomenon also appeals to Deogracias, who agrees older music is better than more modern music. “I like older music, so it makes more sense to use records,” he said. “It also makes it a neat thing to collect because of how a lot of people are into older stuff.”
This is also why he said records should have a higher value than CDs, not to mention digital downloads. “CDs are newer, but a record is like an artifact of history,” Deogracias said.
Contreras also explained the greater value of vinyl in much simpler terms. “Who the hell has a CD player these days?” he asked.
Contreras also said he finds the better understanding of vinyl by listeners to be a reason for the trend. “The music is embedded in the wax, right there for you,” he said. “With MP3s it’s all zeros and ones, nobody actually understands that kind of stuff.”
Deogracias said another cause which could explain the rise is the collector’s value of records.
“Vinyl will actually become more valuable over time because of the fact that it’s sometimes one of a kind,” Contreras said. “Limited edition versions, if they’re kept long enough, will become more and more valuable to collectors.”
According to Contreras, major record labels are also feeding into the trend, capitalizing on the rise of records. In turn, this will increase profit and continue to introduce a younger generation to vinyl. “A lot of top artists and labels are joining the bandwagon in an attempt to make more sales,” he said. “So now new music is also being released in this form, so music from all times is now on records.”
The sales, however, have not been rising at a similar rate as they once were. According to NPR, record sales only grew by 14 percent in 2010, a significant drop in comparison to the years past. Record sales are still on the rise for now, but the trend could fade.
Contreras also warns that, although this trend is recent, it cannot stay forever. “The trend is new; it only happened about two years for us here at Indy CD and Vinyl. But people move on fast, find a new thing to think is cool,” he said.
And if there’s one thing that’s unpredictable, Contreras said it is what is cool and what is not.
“It really is impossible to know what’s next,” he said. “You never can foretell what will be cool.”
1. The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club
2. The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds
3. The Beatles- Revolver
4. Bob Dylan- Highway 61
5. The Beatles- Rubber Soul
6. Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On
7. The Rolling Stones- Exile on Main St.
8. The Clash- London Calling
9. Bob Dylan- Blonde on Blonde
10. The Beatles- The White Album
ROLLING STONE/ SOURCE