Vinyl records show no signs of stopping in their ascent from an underground niche to the heights of mainstream cool. So what’s persuading us to get back into the groove?
The ‘vinyl revival’, it’s happening as I write – more and more of us are returning to the turntables to get our music fix. Some are merely coming back after a digital hiatus, rediscovering their hidden gems tucked away in the attic. But there are also many young people who are discovering vinyl for the first time.
Last year in the US, vinyl sales eclipsed revenues from ad-based free streaming services such as Spotify Free and YouTube. But what’s fascinating about the vinyl revival is the variety of reasons driving people to buy records.
This may or may not surprise you, but it did me. An ICM poll of people who’d bought vinyl in the last month found that 48% of those surveyed hadn’t yet played their recent purchase. And a further 7% admitted that they didn’t even own a record player.
Presumably these people are drawn to records because they can display their music collections in a physical and tangible way. Or in the words of one young student quoted in the linked BBC article:
‘I have vinyls in my room, but it’s more for decor. I don’t actually play them. It gives me the old-school vibe.’
If this quote irritates you as much as it does me, then you might be part of the remaining 52% of people who would only buy a record so that they could actually listen to it.
Of course owning the physical disc and looking at the artwork is nice, but there are sound reasons to choose the vinyl listening experience too (pun intended).
Audiophiles will tell you that the distinctive ‘warm vinyl sound’ is real. The sound is caused by the way turntables deal with bass frequencies which gives a slight fuzz. There’s also the inevitable surface noise which some people prefer over the sharp, ruthless accuracy of a high quality digital file.
Personally, I love my record collection for all these reasons. Records are not just nice objects to own, but I also enjoy the ritual of playing them and subjectively like the sound too.
So have you joined the vinyl revival, or did you never abandon it in the first place? What is it that attracts you to records, or what keeps you away? And have you found any hidden gems stashed away in your attic?