In an era dominated by the fight to be the most hip person on the block, it comes to the surprise of no one that vinyl records have made a massive comeback. The twelve-inch plastic discs have come back into the spotlight for the first time in nearly forty years, after CDs were introduced and pushed forward in prominence. Bands are now producing vinyl versions of their new releases, opening up a new way to become a band’s biggest fan.
The initial resurgence of vinyl LPs began around 2006, when younger music enthusiasts started to pick up retro records of bands their parents listened to in a time when purchasing a record was the only option. Slowly at first and then all at once, modern popular bands and musicians cashed in on this growing trend, releasing their own vinyls to the new consumer audience. This newly reestablished market took record sales through the roof in recent years, bringing it up 250% since 2002, inversely shifting against the general decline of music sales worldwide.
For me and all my friends who collect records, having a tangible way to listen and enjoy music has proven to be a massive factor in picking up new LPs. There’s something enticing about pulling a vinyl out of its sleeve, placing it on the turntable and putting the needle onto the grooves to listen to your favorite bands. Many sources attribute the rise in record sales to this aspect alone as actively engaging in the listening process is a lost idea many people want to bring back.
After about two years since I started to collect vinyl LPs, my collection is roughly 200 strong with about half of those being newer releases from bands I currently listen to. It’s a difficult hobby to keep up with, especially on a college budget, but it’s somehow rather easy to find $30 laying around when you spot a limited pressing of a vinyl you’ve been searching for.
Since starting to collect seriously, I have probably spent way more than I wish to admit (and probably more than I wish to know myself), seeing that I’m purchasing a much more expensive copy of music I already have in my iTunes library.
The unannounced return of what should be obsolete technology has turned many music enthusiasts into vinyl junkies and turned the music merchandise industry into a completely different place. By releasing vinyls, bands encourage their fans not only to purchase their vinyls, but to actively participate in supporting the bands they love in a physical way. Owning a band’s vinyl says you cared enough to pay for the music and not just rip it from the internet at your convenience and the band’s expense. The vinyl revival has proven to be great for fan relations as well, providing people another common ground to speak on about bands. At this point it’s not who is the biggest fan, but who managed to get the coolest pressing.
By ALLISON COUCH / Assistant Arts and Life Editor