At the start of the year, Forbes reported that vinyl records are predicted to sell approximately 40 million units throughout 2017. Last year, an 80 percent growth in sales of LPs was reported in Australia alone. Yet the question lingers - why buy vinyl when we can access virtually every song, artist and album through a device that can fit in our pocket for a small monthly subscription fee? Why do we choose to drop countless pennies on those archaic black discs seemingly transported from yesteryear?
Rockit Record Players has the answers. Specialising in the online sale of entry-level record players, Rockit has seen the extent of the vinyl revival first hand, reporting to Mixdown that they’re projected to sell double the amount of record players sold in 2014. While many in the music industry were cautious that the resurgence of record players was simply going to be a short-lived fad, the continued sales growth and expanding number of young people interested in vinyl proves otherwise. Rockit also reported that 69 percent of their online customers were between the ages of 18 and 34, demonstrating that a growing number of millennials and Gen Y consumers are buying more vinyl despite having grown up in the age of the MP3. At the end of the day, Rockit breaks the vinyl resurgence down to three key factors: tangibility, technology, and nostalgia.
A huge part of collecting vinyl has become the aesthetic quality of a record - like the old saying goes, you can’t hug an MP3. When cassettes replaced records as the most popular listening format in the 1980s, it wasn’t due to superior sound quality or capacity - it was because of size and portability, sparking an industry trend spanning all the way to the introduction of the iPod in the 2000s. Nowadays, vinyl often acts as an opportunity for listeners to physically engage with their music, with many people avidly collecting and displaying their records for decorative purposes. A perfect example of modern record collecting culture in full bloom is through the output of Melbourne psych-masters King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, with early records and limited edition pressings fetching insane prices amongst avid vinyl purists online.
Similarly to the way cassette tapes changed the size of musical formats, the way in which we actually listen to music has evolved over time. While we can now access music on demand through our smartphones and flick on our own personal playlists at ease, it’s arguable that modern music listening methods almost detract from the overall listening experience. Whether its through the speakers or headphones we use or the dreaded shuffle button we so often abuse, it feels like music isn't as highly regarded - more of a convenience than a commodity. With vinyl, many collectors savour the experience of waiting until the day of release to purchase a record, resisting the temptation of average quality online leaks or burnt CDs in favour of a more genuine listening experience unavailable with other formats. The record resurgence has also subliminally increased the amount of people who listen to their LPs front-to-back without skipping tracks, replicating the original intentions of the band or artist, who obviously arranged the order of the track list for people to enjoy the best immersive experience available. And, of course, there’s the classic audiophile argument - music pressed to vinyl has a much warmer texture in comparison to the more crisp quality of digital music, and record listeners will be more likely to own better hi-fi equipment, resulting in superior audio quality. Many record players also come with Bluetooth connected speakers and USB connected cables, representing a fusion of the best of both analogue and digital audio technologies in one nifty package.
Of course, part of the thrill of the vinyl resurgence is the accompanying nostalgia. There’s something undeniably mystical about vinyl - whether you sourced them from a record store or found them amongst musty boxes in your mum’s shed, the distinctive pop-crackle of a needle on wax immediately throws you back to another era. The nostalgic quality of listening to vinyl is often reflected by the kinds of record players available on the market today, with manufacturers such as Crosley taking inspiration from the hi-fi of the ‘50s and ‘60s to reimagine a selection of turntables, consoles, speakers and suitcase-style LP cases. The popularity of Crosley turntables with millennial consumers further highlights how much of an impact the retro revival has upon the resurgence of vinyl, making it easier to listen to records now than ever before. And while it seems unlikely to overtake online streaming in numbers anytime soon, at the end of the day, the vinyl revival offers a unique musical experience unlike any other - if it’s lasted this long, it’s got to be special.
For more see rockitrecordplayers.com.au.