Culture

IN AN ERA OF COMEBACKS, VINYL RECORDS ARE SPINNING RIGHT BACK TO MUSIC LOVERS’ HEARTS!

As we’re at a time of comebacks, as surprising as you might think, the rise of digital music streaming didn’t stop the resurgence of vinyl records. Yes, people are back to buying records off the shelves and online. Here's what we know about the return to vinyl records in a time of digitization.

/ 29 September 2020

We’re at a time of comebacks and as surprising as you might think, the rise of digital music streaming didn’t stop the resurgence of vinyl records. Yes, people are back to buying records off the shelves and online. Of note, these are not just reissues, but new releases by current artists as well! For the first time in three decades, vinyl records are spinning back on track outselling CDs, in fact, generating more than $224 million in revenue in 2019.

Since peaking in the early 1980s, vinyl records didn’t fade into obscurity even with conveniently newer ways of listening to music; cassette tapes, CDs, and streaming services. According to Billboard, LPs contribution of 17% of album sales may not be much, but to factor in streaming for music consumption, really puts things in perspective.

Digital music is accessible more than ever but how did this bulky, old-school tech gain new appeal? It’s not as convenient as newer options but this generation might be just reviving a hundred year-old technology come back from near extinction.

From fashion to music, we always seem to find ourselves back to that retro era. A lot of modern albums embodies that retro style in album covers, we see that in Dua Lipa’s “Physical” music video, with its lycra, leotards and sweatbands, and we definitely hear that in The Weekend’s “Blinding Lights” album, with its super synth-pop keyboard hook—which is also available in vinyl. The 1980s is inspiring pop music once again, influencing artists who weren’t even born then.

There’s really no telling and there’s not one generation that’s responsible for this. According to the RIAA, teens of the ‘80s and the ‘90s were the two largest age demographics. There could be several reasons as to why vinyl records appeal to certain generations. Is it the desire to focus on the music, instead of something that plays in the background? A craving to have something your own, collect something tangible, something personal? Or the perception that music sounds better on vinyl? The digital age’s instant gratification we get from the internet just doesn’t have that same nostalgic feel, hence, the digital-to-analog conversion.

Marcus Barnes, music journalist and Around The World in 80 Record Shops author, offers vinyl lovers an atlas to circumnavigate the globe. The book starts by talking how vinyl makes perfect sense even if there’s a clear shift to digital, “There’s an air of romance that surrounds record collecting and the shops that curate, stockpile and sell vinyl. The notion that music in its tangible, ‘organic’ form has more value than its digital counterpart is one contemporary reason for this romantic idealism.”

Vinyl isn’t a generationally bound format anymore. We’re all rediscovering the timeless quality of vinyl records. Some say they like how it feels personal. You might say what’s old is new again. For whatever reason, this is a good reminder of why music matters.