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Vinyl record revival

Jordan Van Essen, Contributor
April 6, 2012

All the music a person could ever want is just a mouse click away.  This makes it hard to imagine any other type of music, besides digital recordings, would still have a heartbeat.

However, vinyl records have been resurrected to see a growing popularity. Older generations trying to get back in touch with a nostalgic format and younger generations who are discovering a way of listening to music they missed out on are buying records. Yes, vinyl is alive and kicking.

Whether vinyl’s reemerging popularity is just a trend is hard to say, but the numbers from record sales show people still have a desire to buy music if they can get something rewarding from the experience.

Nonbelievers can just ask the owner of Wayback Records on Euclid Avenue, Rob Kuhn. Kuhn said vinyl sells more than anything else in his store, and he feels vinyl is making a comeback.

“It definitely is,” Kuhn said, “I sell three times as many LPs as I do a CD.”

Kuhn said a record’s sound quality and the retro aspect are the biggest factors attributing to vinyl’s rising popularity.

“The nostalgia is one of the big reasons records are making a comeback. Another is that if you have a good turntable the sound quality is actually better than a CD. So it’s really a combination of both,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn isn’t the only one saying vinyl is popular again either. An article in TIME Magazine entitled “Vinyl gets its groove back” said 990,000 records were sold in 2007, a 15.4 percent increase in sales from the previous year. The article also said WEA Corp., the U.S. distributor of Warner Music Group, reported a 30 percent increase in vinyl sales in 2007. Since then, vinyl’s popularity has only continued to rise. According to Billboard and the Nielsen Company, 2.3 million records were sold in 2010 and vinyl sales rose 14 percent from 2009, even when other music sales continued to decline.

It looks like vinyl has come full circle, from the standard norm of listening to music, to a lost art and finally back to a trendy and fulfilling way to listen to music.

Psychology senior Kelsey Dixon knows this all too well. Dixon has collected vinyl for the past seven years and owns around 250 records. Like Kuhn, Dixon said he feels vinyl is experiencing a revival, and more and more people are buying records.

“I think it’s more that people who want to seem ‘hipsterish’ or cool have records on hand, or just an older form of music to make themselves seem cooler. But I think true record people have more of a passion for the music than seeming cool.”

It’s not just the baby boomers and their hipster grandkids buying records either. Vinyl has a community of collectors who search everywhere to find rare or limited albums and releases. Kuhn said collectors like to buy rare test pressing and promos of records that barely see the light of day, and valuable copies of a record can easily sell for more than $1,000.

“It’s something [kids] never had,” Kuhn said. “A lot of people who are buying the vinyl are older people who haven’t had it in years, but a lot of the younger people have never had it and they’re discovering it and liking it. They’re finding out there are different sounds that you can’t hear on a CD or that you can’t download, so there’s a little bit more in there when the needle hits the groove on an LP.”

According to TIMES’ article, an LP will often have a warmer, fuller and more detailed sound with a higher resolution than a CD or mp3 file. Some vinyl enthusiasts enjoy the pops and crackles in the sound which make up a record’s imperfections.

“You’re going to hear every little sound,” Kuhn said. “Some people actually really enjoy the little popping and clicking of the dust.”

The music business has begun to recognize the potential of vinyl as well, even as illegal downloading continues to hammer nails into the industry’s coffin. Big artists are pressing their releases on vinyl, and labels will feature digital downloads with the purchase of the record. The future of vinyl may be uncertain, but its second life has shown people are still interested in investing themselves in their music and the traditional album is far from dead.

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