A Look Into the Vinyl Revival
Have you ever seen a dusty old record player lying around in your grandparents house? Or in the corner of a thrift store just begging to be cleaned?
As a child, my grandparents’ record player is the only one I remember seeing in a household. We had a few dusty vinyls lying around at home, but they were destroyed when I was around 8 years old. On the bright side, they made excellent frisbees (sorry mum). I never put much thought into vinyls – it was the early 2000s after all and the CD predecessor seemed a technology of the past. As long as I had the newest So Fresh CD, I was one happy gal.
Yet somehow, many years down the line, I found myself putting vinyls at the top of my Christmas wish list. The second request on the list: a shiny new, vintage-looking record player. That’s right, new yet vintage, how ironic of me.
And it seems I wasn’t the only one.
That’s right kids, if you haven’t already noticed, the humble vinyl is making a comeback – a MAJOR comeback.
In fact, in 2017 Australian vinyl sales increased for the seventh year in a row, seeing a whopping 19% growth compared to 2016.
Australian vinyl sales from 2015-2017, up and up we go…
This so-called vinyl revival is sweeping the globe, with similar increases in the United States, with sales now sitting at a 12-year-high, and the United Kingdom. So much so that some might claim the vinyl has been fully revived.
Until recently, vinyl lovers were thought to belong to one of two categories. The first, beloved grandparents. The second, our modern-day retro-lovers, the good old hipsters. However, the ever-increasing demand for vinyls and vinyl products shows that customers now stretch far and beyond these categories, myself included.
If this is news to you, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Never fear – I have broken down the modern-day vinyl renaissance into four categories: nostalgia, sound, tangibility and the cool factor.
The Nostalgia Factor
Jim Blase, the co-owner of an American record store, confirmed that vinyls were predominantly sought after by older generations reminiscing on their youth (or who maybe just couldn’t let go). Even those who weren’t around during the pre-CD era can experience a strange sense of nostalgia when listening to vinyls. Particularly because old-school vinyls dominated the market.
However, as many modern musicians are beginning to release albums in vinyl form, nostalgia is not the only reason for vinyls growing popularity. One record store owner commented that these days you’ll get your oldies searching for classics, and 12-year-olds searching for Taylor Swift.
The Sound Factor
To make it short and sweet, vinyls do not have the clarity of CD’s and digital music. Their sound is often described as imperfect, warm and crackly – three words you would never use to describe a song streamed on Spotify. This sound is what makes vinyls unique and keeps vinyl-holics going back for more. The look and feel of vinyls also sets them apart, which brings us to number three…
The Tangibility Factor
In an age where digital music is king, there’s something oddly special about holding a vinyl, placing it on a turntable and carefully selecting which track to play. One vinyl-lover described it perfectly, stating “where you can see the grooves and comprehend where the sound emanates from…that’s something really appealing these days…in comparison to digital music.”
Although you can also hold CD’s, there’s an added layer of tangibility with records that I believe makes it a better experience. Whether it be the grooves, the size, or simply the feeling of carefully placing them on a record player. This tangibility could be a reason for vinyl sales continual growth whilst CD sales are in decline. Ohh how the tables have turned, as the introduction of CD’s almost killed out the vinyl industry just a few decades ago.
In addition to the feel of vinyls, the look is a major selling point. Blase described “the look, the feel, the cover art” as key features of vinyl’s that make them unique. In fact, he claimed bands and artists will fight over what the cover looks like, more than the songs.
The Cool Factor
Last but not least, we must look at the cool factor. There’s an ever-growing trend of old technologies making a comeback, being reimaged by niche groups (I’m looking at you hipsters) and made cool again. Some have dubbed this trend “retromania”, describing it as pop culture’s fascination with the past and tendency to make what once was the norm a hot commodity.
We’re not only seeing this with vinyls, but also polaroid cameras, film cameras and old gaming consoles. As this trend continues to grow, the cool factor alone could be enough to continue to sustain vinyl’s revival.
So, whether you’re new on the bandwagon or have dipped your toes in the world of vinyl before, get those turntables going and see for yourself what this vinyl revival is all about.