The Resurrection of Vinyl Records

Vincent Barreras

With the advent of iTunes and digital music streaming sites such as Pandora, Spotify, and Band Camp, most physical forms of music were seemly about to become obsolete. We saw the cassette come and go, only to be replaced by CDs.
At the time this was a revolutionary concept, being able to easily select and jump between tracks and not having to rewind tapes made listening to albums and your favorite songs so much more convenient.
Today, according to, “CD sales are down 17%.” With digital downloads, the need to go out and buy an album was eliminated, as one could make a purchase at the click of a button from the comfort of their own home. When asked about this digital format, Shane McDaniels, a 23-year-old Bucks student said, “I can’t stress how thankful I am to have digital music in my life. When I was younger I had a CD player and I would only bring one CD to school.”
We seemed to be heading in this direction of online music streaming, that is, until recently. Over the last decade, an old form of music listening began to have a resurgence: vinyl records. For some, this form of music has never left, but for a new generation, is just starting to begin.
According to the, “more than 3.2 million LP’s were sold last year, a rise of 53% on last year and the highest number since 1991.”
Most people are scratching their heads as to why this trend is becoming more common. “Having a physical record is great, I first started collecting CD’s then moved onto vinyl. I like the cover art too,” said Jake Lewkowski, 25, of North Field, NJ.
As a society, we love listening to the hottest singles of new albums, only listening to a song or two, just to neglect the other ones on the album. With vinyl, it’s more of an experience. Putting on a record and listening from start to finish feels more authentic than just playing a song off your phone.
So, the question is, why would this trend, which was popularized so long ago, start to become so contemporary?
“Music is more authentic on vinyl, right now it is a fad that is coming back,” said Sean Berry, 25, of Summerville, NJ.
In this instance, Sean is correct. Record stores are beginning to pop up and are being invaded by both young and old. Modern artists are starting to sell 12 inch LPs at their shows; classics are beginning to have new pressings for the first time in decades, and are being purchased by millennials every day.
It seems the majority of new users are millennials, people aged 18-34. But this does not mean the art is exclusive to this generation, there are many older collectors, who, unlike millennials, have never stopped their collections.
There has been a steady increase in sales over the last ten years, while it’s nothing groundbreaking, the arrows have been going up each year. According to RIAA News, “revenues from vinyl albums were $416 million in 2015 – the last year they were that high was 1988.”
Albums that are dominating the vinyl charts consist of new releases, and repressings of classic albums. This past year, after the untimely death of music legend David Bowie, he had an explosion of record sales, in fact, he had five albums in the top 40.
According to Official Charts, “David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar sold 54,000 units making it the most sold vinyl record of 2016.” Vinyl’s have an exclusive nature to them because most only go on sale for a limited amount of time.
A band from Doylestown PA, Circa Survive, just had their “On Letting Go” 10 year anniversary album tour with an exclusive repressing of the album with only 2500 copies pressed. Records have this collectability and exclusiveness that online digital format doesn’t offer.
So, to answer the question originally asked, why are vinyl records beginning to find themselves back into music culture? The answer is not as simple as the question. It could attribute to millennials never actually being able to have this platform and experience in their music journey’s.
“It’s a reaction of music getting smaller. We started with vinyl, cassette, CD, digital, and now back to vinyl. When you stream music, or buy it on iTunes, you don’t necessarily have it, it’s on your computer. It’s fun coming into record stores and looking around and seeing what you will find. When you are on the computer you can search anything and it will be there,” said Jake Lewkowski, 25, of North Field NJ.
This medium of listening definitely has an old school, authentic feel, which appeals to many. In fact, our popular culture has been having a sort of renaissance of revitalization in terms of older trends.
The revenue charts speak for themselves, if they continue on their upward path, which is more than likely, we will continue to see a growth in this industry. With April 22, 2017 marking the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day, what better time to than now to start your collection?