Without a doubt- the sale of Vinyl LPs ( LP short for Long Play- FYI ) is coming back! Most recently-Sony has reported that they are reopening pressing and production of Vinyl LPs after a three-decade break. But Why are Vinyl Records Coming Back?
What could be more nostalgic than the vinyl LP? Could this trend have a nostalgic motivation? Most likely not the only reason however there is something to be said about going back to the future-Old Skool as it were. Not to mention the digital world of recording can leave things a little too pristine perhaps.
I recently watched a DVD movie about Tower Records- “All Things Must Pass”- which I highly recommend renting if you have any interest in the era of Vinyl records. The movie is entertaining as well as educational and depicts a true phenomenon with their business model -actually allowing employees to run the show- mostly. They created an atmosphere of music and socializing that is truly a gaping hole in modern-day supposed “social media”- which is anything but up close and personal. Visiting a Tower Records Store was a social event- not just a place to buy records-maybe the tide is shifting back to the experience of the Vinyl Record Shop? Personally, I even miss the BlockBuster experience -except for the late fee concept- which was always the case for me. Again-Rent the movie!- “All Things Must Pass” – available on Amazon Prime movies.
Is it the Sound of Vinyl?
Of course, digital technology continues to advance-expand dimensionally and refine the listening experience. I know a case certainly can be made that digital sounds superior in terms of specs and distortion. But what do our ears tell us? I recently visited with a friend that still had a decent turntable- speakers and quite a record collection. He put on some old classic records – don’t remember which, unfortunately- but I do recall it having a certain smooth quality to it that was just pleasant on my ears-that is just my experience and maybe I am fooling myself- it certainly could be argued.
So not only am I a musician but also a mix engineer of sorts. I record my own tracks for my original music and to use live for backing tracks. I mix “In The Box” ITB-for short- were everything is mixed within the computer. To get a mix sounding “warmer” like analog circuitry ( gear that is non-digital- made of real wires- resistors- capacitors etc)- there has to be some distortion introduced back into a mix to get it sounding warmer-like Vinyl. Most every Digital Audio WorkStation (Recording Software-or DAW for short) has many ways of adding this back to a mix to achieve what the analog or vinyl recordings inherently possessed as a result of being a non-digital format. Its crazy in a way- we have made all this advancement in digital audio for cleaner more pristine sound-just to add noise or distortion back so it is pleasing to the ears!
How About the Album Cover?
Certainly, the album cover contributes to the allure of owning a vinyl record- and it’s a great conversation starter! Viewing album credits and talking about album art concepts was a huge part of the fun of getting new records. Hanging out listening with friends- talking about the cover- music and doing other stuff we shouldn’t be doing – molded my teen years for sure.
One of my personal favorites was Brain Salad Surgery- by Emerson Lake and Palmer- man what a radical title and artwork- Gothic structure and bordered on the macabre – and fit the music so well. Look it Up!
I have a book just on album covers and, as I looked thru each cover, I relished those days when a new album was released- just to see what the cover was going to be as much as the music. We have lost that pretty much with streaming music although it does still exist in the digital domain. I guess- like a newspaper- there is just something to having a tangible to handle and peruse in 3D that still has a tactile irresistibility about it all. Wax on!
So Who’s Buying Vinyl?
It is reported that sales of Vinyl records are mostly to the under 25 crowds with the genre mainly being Rock and Pop. This is a group that probably grew up only hearing about albums but never really experienced hearing or seeing a vinyl LP- except maybe for Dads old record collection- if he still has one or even a turntable anymore. This is not to say this is the only reason I look forward and welcome feedback on this subject for sure.
The return is quirky and of course that may be in part why it is returning- the younger crowd likes to do the unexpected- to go against the grain-it’s what we did – didn’t we? Not to say it’s not a good move but it’s like what is old is new again -as it were. Personally, I like to see the subculture of young retro audiophiles as well as the resurgence of the album cover- let’s give our artists -album cover designers and models etc their job back! And a whole side for album credits that we can actually read.
Vinyl is Coming Back! You Can Believe That
For whatever reason – Vinyl is making its way back into culture and record sales have seen an almost consistent increase of about 50% per year for the last several years.
I look forward to producing other articles on the site to make suggestions, and gathering feedback from other experienced Vinyl Affectionados, about minimal decent hardware requirements- such as turntables and record “needles”-(or rather “Stylus” to be proper)- and possibly speakers – for those looking to get back into the retro experience.
Also finding LPs is not that difficult but I hope to have resources listed on this site as well for those looking to find LPs for sale.
Back To The Future!!