Vinyl Records: A Testament to True Music Fans!
I talk to people about music in one form or another every day...that's every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, without fail. I cannot tell you the exact date on which this verbal tick of mine developed but my guess is that it started in the late 70's/early 80's and has gained steam each day since. So it's a shame that I haven't been writing a blog for some time but starting a record label, and developing and hosting a radio show is taking a significant chunk of my time. Anyway, I'm back to the blog to discuss one of my favorite topics...vinyl records!
Everyone is talking about the resurgence in the popularity of vinyl records. It's certainly a valid way to describe what's happening with the huge uptick in the sale of vinyl in an age where entitled "music fans" refuse to pay for music. As a matter of fact, vinyl record sales accounted for $416 million dollars in 2015, it's highest level since 1988! That's not only a resurgence, that's an all out explosion. And it's a great sign for all things analog in a digital world gone mad.
In the previous paragraph I threw quotes around the term music fans describing people who suddenly think it's ok to not pay for music. If you're one of those, you're not a real music fan and there's really no debate. Think about it...if you love a band or artist and never pay a dime for their music, how long do you honestly think they'll continue to work for free? If you're an accountant, a teacher or a doctor, would you work for free? If you're a young kid working in a coffee shop or fast food restaurant, would you for work for free? The answer is NO...no one would and no one should. Don't give me the "hey, it's art man and if you're in it for the money you're not an artist" bullshit. If you want your musicians and artists to continue making the art you love...pay them. The newfound popularity in vinyl records (despite the $30 plus dollars for an LP) is a great testament to real music fans understanding what it takes to support a scene. And that fan base is growing!
Digital music and the ease of creating, sharing and downloading it (even if you do pay) is boring and stale. I get that it was a revelation when it was first invented, I do. I download music, I share it with the click of a button (but I pay for ALL of it) and I enjoy the convenience. I do not however enjoy the sound nor the experience of listening to music digitally. Going to a record store, talking to the store owners, workers, the other shoppers, looking at album covers, getting home and reading lyrics, studying the inserts and finally dropping the needle on the record and hearing that initial hiss and pop is something digital music, no matter how advanced the technology gets, could ever bring you. You may say that my feelings simply represent the era I grew up in (the 70's/80's) but you may be surprised that although statistics from a recent ICM poll show nearly 50% of vinyl buyers are under the age of 35, about 16% of the people buying vinyl records are aged 18-24 and 33% are 25-34 years old. So yeah, there's some folks buying because they miss it, but an entirely new generation of people are buying vinyl because they too have realized that the digital experience cannot compare to the vinyl experience. Believe me, I'm not saying vinyl sales will ever eclipse those of digital nor become more popular. Digital has it's advantages as well. What I am saying is that there's plenty of room for both to exist and flourish.
If you're one of the those people who haven't "rediscovered" vinyl yet, please do. It will bring you back to a place from your childhood that you're probably missing right about now. If you're too young to have experienced vinyl the first time around and are looking to rebel against what you've grown up with...vinyl is the answer. Find a local record store, meet the staff, talk about music and start your collection today. I promise you, you won't regret it. And maybe, just maybe, you'll spend a New Years Eve, complete with adult beverages, in a record store with good friends and great music like I once did. That's a story for another piece but it happened and I'll certainly share it down the road.