Take your favorite LP out of its sleeve, place it on a turntable, set the needle in the groove and turn up your speakers. Or if you are listening to a 45, don’t forget your RPM adapter.
Most people under the age of 30 probably don’t know what this means, although this is slowly changing.
For decades, vinyl records were the primary form of listening to music. Since the invention of digital, however, most people have shoved those crates of albums onto the closest shelf to collect dust.
What’s the point when you can have virtually any song you want constantly at your fingertips? No more broken needles, skips, cracks and pops, and flipping sides every few songs.
With digital, you can take your music with you on the go and create playlists that fit your mood, so why would anyone want to listen to vinyl?
Despite the rapid decline of vinyl record sales since the early 90’s, more people, specifically the younger generations, are starting to discover its magic.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, an information and sales tracking system, vinyl sales increased 36 percent in 2011, making it the best-selling year for records in the last couple of decades. Sales are expected to climb even further in 2012.
So what has caused this jump in sales? The answer is simple: quality. While it doesn’t hurt that newer artists are now releasing music on vinyl, I believe the main cause for this jump is simply the fact that vinyl sounds better.
The sounds are warm and rich, and listeners are able to hear parts of songs they may have overlooked before. You haven’t really heard music until you have sat in your bedroom floor looking over album covers and turning up the music so loud your house and heart are beating in time with it.
Although buying records may be an act of nostalgia for some, it is becoming mainstream for others. Vinyl will never replace digital, that’s for sure, but it is making a huge impact. Artists are finding ways to appeal to all generations of fans by releasing new music on both digital and vinyl, sometimes even providing a digital download to accompany the vinyl record so you no longer have to choose between the two.
Another bonus to vinyl records is you are more likely to listen to the entire album. With digital we tend to pick and choose our favorite tracks and discard the ones we don’t like. What most people don’t realize is these tracks have been strategically placed so the album has a unique and working flow. A track that sounds just OK standing alone may take on a whole new meaning when placed between two others. Just like you wouldn’t skip around chapters while reading a book, albums are meant to be listened to from side A to B. Each album tells a story and it’s up to the listener to figure out its message.
The fact is, digital has made music more easily accessible to people but comes with lack of quality. Whether you crave the convenience of digital or the magic of vinyl is up to each individual to decide.
Personally, I say turn up the volume and keep those records spinnin’.
To contact Erin Peden, email firstname.lastname@example.org.