In 2014 the record for the fastest selling vinyl was broken. Twice. What is the reason for this second coming of music via wax? Why was there a 101% rise in sales of LP’s between 2012 and 2013 whilst CD’s slowly descend into tech hell? And with the biggest market for vinyl being those between 16 and 25, is it all nostalgia for something we were not a part of? Has the recent vintage revival seen on catwalks now bled into how we listen to music?
The thing that drew me into preferring LP’s to MP3’s or FLAC files was just how immersive it made music. Before records I would click play on Spotify or my iPod, let the music begin and not really take much notice of it whilst I went about doing whatever I needed to do that day. With vinyl you need to take time, remove it from the sleeve, check for dust, set the player to the right RPM (or risk being terrified by Fugazi remixed by Alvin and The Chipmunks, or Prince sounding like he was crawling from the depths of hell). Set the record down, move the arm into position, and lower. There we have it, a sort of meditation and moment of quiet in this hectic modern world. Maybe it is this that people enjoy about records, the fact that they are not for loud parties, or for playing whilst you run errands. It is for absorption, admiration, and appreciation for the time and care that the artist has put into their music, something which could get easily ignored by simply clicking ‘Download’ on 4Shared.
Artwork has always been a key part of an album. Yet with vinyl, it’s given a bigger canvas, allowing more creativity that is less likely to get lost amongst other albums on someones iTunes library or in a CD store. In fact, 2013’s ‘Art Vinyl’ awards saw 13,000 voters place their votes in a competition which celebrates art, photography, graphic design, and how it translates onto those 12”x12” sleeves we all hold so dear to our hearts. It may also be a simple piece of psychology when it comes to record art, the bigger the picture is, the more we are drawn to it. Also, something could be said about the trend for coloured vinyl, because who doesn’t want to show off their limited edition record made up of every colour known to man? There are few things move exciting than removing a sleeve and finding a shade of cerise rather than black. Well, for a record enthusiast that is.
Vinyl nerds often claim that LP’s sound better than CD’s or MP3 files, and if you’re into warmer bass tones you might agree. Even digital music pioneer Steve Jobs preferred to listen to his music on wax. Now heres the sciency bit, analogue (LP’s) is less compressed than digital music, meaning theres more information on a humble piece of plastic than there is in a file made up of numbers and wave forms. This all means that your experience of the record is closer to how the artist intended it to be.
Putting all of this together, it seems that the resurgence of analogue music is all to pay respect for those musicians who see what they do as art, rather than just a way to make money. It makes the audience work for the music, and gives a sense of excitement and anticipation which is dearly missed in this day and age of fast paced, easy access, on demand everything. The cult of vinyl lovers is continually growing, allowing musicians to build a deeper connection with their listeners, so heres to a partnership between audience and artist which will hopefully continue to go from strength to strength.