They call it the ‘vinyl revival’, since around 2007 vinyl started to drastically increase in popularity. In 2015 the sales of vinyl even reached a 25-year high. But what brought back the use of this aged way of listening to music that basically died in the 90’s?
In the age of streaming and downloading, physical sales don’t really seem to matter that much anymore. So when 62% of the sales of Ed Sheeran’s album ‘Divide’ where physical it’s very noticeable. Granted, this includes CD sales, but it’s quite hard to image vinyl not playing a big part in this.
The vinyl decline started in 1988, when the compact disc surpassed vinyl in popularity. It became harder for retailers to sell their vinyl so they started to stock less and less, only stocking the most popular albums in the end. It took nearly 30 year for vinyl to make a comeback in 2007. In 2014 1.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the UK alone, with the popularity still increasing.
More interesting than the how and when is perhaps the why. In an age where everybody has thousands of songs at their disposal with a touch of the finger, why would you listen to music in such an unwieldy way? After some research I found six reasons why people might be listening to vinyl once more.
1. It’s a more active and less passive way of listening to you music
Listening to music on vinyl requires effort; you can’t simply play a playlist to provide you with hours of background music. You have to actively pick albums, place them on your turntable and swap them every few songs. Making an effort for something makes you appreciate it more.
“I think the crackling, the real vinyl sound, has a real nostalgic ring to it. I also think it makes you listen to music more actively than when you’re listening on a different medium. I think it really ads something to the experience if you have to make a real effort to listen to an album. “
-Dyan Beinema, Music enthusiast and vinyl collector
2. Sound quality
People often describe the sound of vinyl as warm, full and homely. People may call this “just a nostalgic feeling”, but there is truth in it. Digital files have to be a certain size and, especially with streaming, this size is smaller than it needs to be in order to provide the perfect sound. Granted, the difference is small and sometimes hard to notice, but the difference is there nonetheless. What can be certainly be described as nostalgic is the crackling, something a lot of vinyl listeners love about it.
3. The vinyl community
Listening to music isn’t just about listening to music. Often it’s about sharing your music and music preferences with other people. A great place to do this is the place where you buy your music, a vinyl shop for example. Digital music just doesn’t offer this experience, something that seems to be missed by a lot of people.
4. To have something physical
Having an mp3 list or using a streaming service can be extremely useful, but in the end you don’t really have anything you can hold in your hands, show to other people, or give to your children. One of the beauties of vinyl is the vinyl record itself. The size makes for great cover art, which is often beautiful enough to hang on your wall.
5. searching for that one special record
Ah, the thrill of the hunt. Browsing through hundreds of stale records in the hopes of finding that one Pink Floyd album you just have to have in your collection. Flea markets, local record store, online marketplaces, you can be looking for something specific or nothing at all. It’s great fun hunting your collection together. Another bonus is that old records are often really cheap, selling for only a few euro’s a piece.
6. You don’t actually lose anything by buying vinyl (most of the time)
Even though vinyl can be great fun, at the end of the day digital music is just more practical. You listen to it literally anywhere at any time, it weighs nothing and you don’t have to flip a big black disc every five songs. Artists know this, that’s why, more often than not; you get a code to download the album digital when purchasing something on vinyl. Useful! Buying an albums on vinyl doesn’t only mean you can listen a record the old school way at home, you can also listen to it easy and fast on your mobile device. All included in the price.
So that’s it. Six reasons why people might prefer vinyl to other ways of listening music. What do you think, were these reasons enough to start the second coming of vinyl in 2007, or was something else at play? Make sure to let us know in the comments!