Vinyl records are becoming increasingly popular. Since 2008, sales have jumped sharply, and have increased in numbers over the years since. 2016 will be vinyl’s biggest year yet. So why are vinyl records so popular, decades after the CD player became the standard for music playing?
1. DJing. Disc jockeying has been around for a while now, but access to equipment has become more readily available. Brands such as Audio Technica and Stanton have been producing cheap DJ turntables modelled on the Technics SL-1200, one of the best turntables of all time. These cheap turntables have been effective in attracting budding DJs to a world in which the admission price had previously been to high. Vinyl records are used by DJs due to the capacity for scratching and good sound quality. With more beginner DJs in the market for vinyl records, their sales have jumped.
2. Collectibility. In a world where the only representation of a music collection is folders on a hard drive or an mp3 player, people are returning to records due to their ‘collectibility’. CDs in their cheap plastic cases pale in comparison to vinyl in their beautiful big sleeves. Coloured vinyl has played a part in the rise in popularity of vinyl records. There is also the element of finding rare vinyl records and being able to build a collection that increases in value as it ages.
3. Coolness. There’s always been that x-factor with vinyl. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason why, but vinyl records are just cool. Popular with hipsters everywhere.
4. Audio quality. For audiophiles, there’s no doubt that vinyl records are the cheapest and easiest way to access high quality audio. High quality recordings in digital format are hard to come by, and vinyl records are comparatively plentiful. Mp3 uses a lot of compression that reduces the quality of the sound. The frequencies are all there with vinyl records.
5. mp3 Download Keys. People love the convenience of mp3, but often want a ‘hard-copy’ of their music as well. Record companies have managed this by including a download key inside the record sleeve, so that people can buy the record then go online to download it to their iPod.
6. Warmth of Sound. There’s no better way to enjoy the warmth of jazz and soul LPs than on a good quality turntable. Lovers of vinyl often say that the medium has a warmth to it that digital music lacks.
7. Nostalgia. The generation who were collecting vinyl back in the 70s and 80s are now at least in to their 50s. Many of these people have held on to their vinyl LPs over the decades, and after playing their old records recognised the wonders of the analog recording. It’s easy to buy in to the hype of digital media, but as more and more people go back to the records they bought as kids, interest in vinyl is being reignited in the older generation too.
8. Less convenience. An odd thing to attract people, to be sure. Since playing music these days is as easy as pushing a button on an mp3 player, and getting new music as easy as clicking the download button, the relative difficulty of vinyl is getting people more invested in their music. The extra care involved in taking care of vinyl records is making people care about their music.
9. Radiohead and The Beatles. These two extremely popular bands are creating an interest in vinyl for two different reasons. Radiohead released their In Rainbows album in a special ‘discbox’ format which included a CD and two 45 rpm vinyls. This move has been credited in getting Radiohead fans, of which there are many, interested in vinyl records. Conversely, The Beatles catalogue was recently released in digital format on iTunes, which was accompanied by a massive advertising campaign. Alerted to this, legions of Beatles fans were reminded of their old vinyl records (see point 7), or downloaded the mp3s and were reminded of how much better it was on LP (see point 4).
10. Enjoying an Album as a Whole
The music industry has shifted steadily towards singles being the major money makers. Mp3 has helped this along by presenting bite sized, easily digestible nuggets of music that slot in to playlists on an mp3 player. People are returning to vinyl records because they present a complete work of art, rather than a made for the masses single.