We live in a digital age, with the most widespread support for pretty much any form of entertainment – written, audible, and visual – being zeroes and ones travelling at the speed of light through optical cables and the airwaves. And the most widespread device for consuming these digital forms of entertainment are smartphones, offering their users the possibility to carry around not only the latest news, social networks, even casino games and bets at Betway Ghana but store entire discographies of our favorite musicians recorded with the best possible quality that we can play in our high-fidelity headphones wherever we are. Still, with so much high-definition media available in a digital form, people still seem to have a taste for the old school – and increasingly so, the ever-growing sales of vinyl records show.
Vinyl records were the most widely used and easiest to distribute form of audio recordings for ages – then alternative emerged in the form of magnetic tapes, cassettes, then CDs, and the current form of digital distribution. As such, vinyl record sales have seen a steady decline for years and years – until they came back in style. If in 2005, just 900,000 vinyl records were sold in the US, they have seen a slow but steady growth ever since, reaching sales of 14.3 million units last year. In the last decade or so, vinyl record sales have grown by more than 1000% – an amazing growth, you might say, especially with the widespread availability of digital content.
Despite being among the last remnants of analog technology in an increasingly digital world, vinyl records seem to refuse to go where obsolete technologies retire. And it’s not the price that keeps vinyl alive – as all rarities, vinyl records are much more expensive than the digital versions of the records. And it’s apparently not nostalgia either, given that vinyl records are bought not only by people of age who have used vinyl when they were young but people who are young right now – computer programmers, hipsters, millennials, and such.
For one, people seem to like the idea of having a tangible support on which they can take the music home to be appealing. And, given the fragility of vinyl records, they seem to appreciate it even more. Apparently, having a vinyl record of a song or an album makes people feel closer to the artist – and this seems to matter a lot for today’s music lovers. Plus, true audiophiles claim that vinyl records have a superior quality, too, one that makes even the highest-fidelity losslessly encoded digital copy just that – an unworthy copy.
Whichever the case, traditional record stores are spreading around the world, making sure the almost forgotten realm of redords will not disappear – just like printed books will never go out of style despite the widespread availability of electronic books.