We all know about vinyl. It’s that huge disk that spins and plays music right? Yes, but it’s so much more than that. Vinyl records symbolize an entire era, or two. It’s an analog format of releasing music that became commonplace in the 1930’s, but unlike the CD it stayed relevant and mandatory for music listening until the mid 80’s. Pretty soon, CDs gained popularity, and became the format of choice. However, CDs had to combat with something that Vinyl records never had to. These days anyone with an internet connection can either download their music for free (illegally) or purchase it on a digital library. Keep in mind that CD sales have gone down the last few years, and digital sales have gone up. And those numbers don’t even take into account how many people are putting their music onto blank CD’s or copying a friends album rather than buying their own. I’m not saying these are bad things, but music comes in many different forms nowadays. This is where Vinyl records have the upper hand. They are an analog format representative of an era of music that many people absolutely love. The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – they all released their music on Vinyl originally.
Many young people appreciate the music their parents listened to, and even prefer it. In their minds Vinyl is a portal to the past where music was usually very good, and far more important. Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes explained it well, “The thing about vinyl records, for me at least, is once vinyl got too big for everyone and music became portable is when music started losing its importance.”
Artists were meant to be artists; it wasn’t just about making money and pumping your fists in the air as the bass dropped. It was art, it was what people did. It wasn’t so much of a business as it is today. This isn’t to say that music is meaningless these days, or necessarily worse, but it is very different than it used to be. Now, many recording artists release their music on CD as well as Vinyl, and people are buying more and more Vinyl. According to statista.com 1 million records were sold in 2007, and it only got higher with 2.8 million sold in 2010, 3.9 million in 2011, and 4.6 million sold in 2012. That is a lot of records, and it doesn’t even consider flea markets, estate auctions or garage sales. In 2013 Vinyl records jumped to 6 million sold, which is more than a 30% increase and sets a 22 year record for Vinyl sales.
So what does all this mean? It means that people still enjoy and appreciate the old ways, including a lot of recording artists. The funny thing is that so many people download their music for free rather than buying it on CD, yet many of those people are the very ones purchasing Vinyl records. When you go to a record store they are inexpensive (usually), nicer to look at than a CD, and bigger. And bigger is better isn’t it? Either way, Vinyl records are far from dead, and I hope it stays that way.
Record Store Day is coming up on April 19th the with 2014 Ambassador being Chuck D. So hit up your local records shops and swap the warmth of analog.