The popularity of Vinyl music in the Digital era

In 1877, Thomas Edison invented a device which could record and play music, he called it the Phonograph. The quality of this was extremely poor and the recording could only last 1 play. Fast forward 100+ years and the progression of music production and the art of listening has changed dramatically. Over the last 50 or 60 years we have seen the use and popularity of Vinyl records and the turntable to cassettes and 8 track-tapes to CD’s and digital recording to digital streaming.  Music is now so easily available to us, with a click of a button we can listen to any genre or album from any decade through any of the digital music platforms such as; Spotify, Apple music, Amazon music, SoundCloud etc. With all the unlimited access and speeds, why is there a revived interest in Vinyl music and record players? 

Considering a lot of content and trends are now based off the 70’s and 80’s, with successful TV shows and movies like Stranger Things, That 70’s show, Mind hunter or the very successful Guardians of the Galaxy, to name a few. Funny how digital platforms create content based off analogue to play with nostalgic marketing. There’s now an increased fascination with 70’s, 80’s music as it’s cool or trendy to indulge in retro, more so to experience it in the form of records or cassettes. Living in the social media age, where your image online becomes an important aspect of life, Vinyl’s can add to your ‘party trick’, something to show off about to friends, as well as striking up a different avenue for conversation with new people. There are many offline reasons why owning vinyl records can be so appealing.  The Local Record stores can be a great environment to explore on your own while also offering you the option to socialise and be a part of a community, where you can meet others who share similar music taste and discuss everything music.

You probably have heard and drowned out individuals you’d call ‘hipsters’ go on about how Vinyl records are so much warmer while being better quality wise with the lossless of sound. *rolling eyes* Hold that thought for a moment, there is validity to this observation. Vinyl tends to present the widest range of frequencies due to its analogue to analogue production process. Digital music because of its compression to keep file sizes manageable, doesn’t present as much of continual range. Listening to vinyl music is an experience rather than just a passive activity. The experience beings with setting the record player to picking out the album and finally setting the needle down, unlike CD’s or streaming music, tracks on a Vinyl record can’t be easily skipped and there requires a certain degree of patience and time. There are various emotions that run during the listening experience, for example a nostalgic memory triggered by the simple sound of the crackling of the record or looking at the artwork on the albums or the lyrics on it.

While the advantage of digital music is the ease of mobility, being able to carry thousands of songs and various albums with you, it doesn’t give you the chance to collect, maintain and display the albums. With everything digital and invisible, having a physical record can be exciting. The opportunity to share, trade, gift and finally leave behind for friends and family, shows the effort and thought one would take to pick and maintain their music. It can add some thrill with collecting and hunting for albums, opportunities to explore a  local record store in a new city/country or even stumble upon  a  flea market with unique items just highlights the flexibility of also buying used records which also adds to the story and the experience.

Vinyl records might not be as easily available as on streaming platforms but to help boost sales, large corporations are also offering digital downloads to the physical albums, so the listener can have their favorite song or album also transferred to their phone without having to repurchase it. While digital is the future and continues to surprise us, perhaps it’s the nostalgic feeling or just a change from the usual that really has impacted the growing interest in Vinyl records. Similarly seen in theatre goers vs. the online streaming, its sometimes the experiences that we crave from time to time.

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