Why Vinyl Records are Making a Comeback
In 1895 the first commercial record player was released to the public, and vinyl records slowly grew in popularity throughout the 20th century. Then, in the early 1970s, cassette tapes became popular, after that CDs, and about a decade ago, music streaming services became popular. With so many new, more convenient ways to listen to music, vinyls were thought of as a thing of the past. But in 2020, vinyls were the highest selling physical form of music for the first time in about forty years (almost doubling the sales of CDs, an enormous jump). The first thought of many might be that these sales are coming from boomers or Gen X, but this boost in sales can actually be traced back to millennial and Gen Z consumers.
The experience of listening to a vinyl record is unlike listening to a CD or streaming service. Streaming services and CDs are instantaneous. There’s no effort or attention needed to play music off of one’s phone or computer. But with a vinyl, listening to the music becomes the activity instead of just a backdrop for whatever else we do. Something about delicately pulling the record out of its sleeve and ever-so-carefully dropping the needle requires the listener to be fully immersed in the music itself. The sound quality is better, so vinyls can appeal to music listeners who wish to enjoy their favorite albums in their purest form. Playlists give us a way to listen to lots of our favorite songs, but in a sense break down the record. Listening to albums top-to-bottom conveys the project just as the artist intended and nothing less.
When record players were first introduced to the masses, they were extremely expensive, so only the rich could afford to use them. Nowadays, record players are available for much lower prices with modern day luxuries like Bluetooth, USB ports, and auxiliary ports coming standard. Some record players even come with built-in preamplifiers;a mechanism which turns the vibrations received from the record into an electronic form so it can be played through speakers for our listening. This makes it much easier for the average person to pick up vinyls as a side hobby.
The way our world works, everywhere we go there’s music, and it’s all digitized. We walk into stores, there’s music playing. We ride in cars, there’s music playing there, too. The biggest problem is that we don’t own any of this music. Vinyls are a hardcopy in a world where almost nothing is. They give music a feeling of authenticity like nothing else, and they’re only growing in popularity.