Back on black: Vinyl records make a comeback

CDs and Vinyls still exist despite falling out of popularity.

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CDs and Vinyls still exist despite falling out of popularity.

First was vinyl. Then cassette. Then 8-Track, CD, and MP3. Next is…vinyl?

In recent years, a sudden resurgence in record production has occurred. Some of the more popular bands and musicians of recent years, like Lorde and Jack White, have started releasing their music on vinyl, as well as CDs and iTunes. In fact, Jack White’s album “Lazaretto” broke a record this year, selling 40,000 copies, on vinyl, in one week.The previous record was Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy” in 1991, with 32,000 copies sold in one week.

Though an enormous majority of music sales still happen digitally, some brick and mortar stores have brought actual records back into their inventory. Stores like Amoeba and Rasputin have sold records for years so it’s no wonder they still sell them, but lately more modern stores like Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters, and even some Hot Topic stores have added vinyl to their inventory. Why might this trend be coming about now? One would think that iPods, mp3s,YouTube, and all other digital music options would have made the record completely obsolete by now. But, online music source states that vinyl is doing better than it has in over a decade. In fact, sales of LPs have increased six-fold, going from 1 million total units sold in 1993, to over 6 million units sold in 2013. As of now, vinyl is the only physical music medium that is on the rise instead of decline. And many audiophiles couldn’t be happier.

“There’s something about the clicking in old processing equipment that’s comforting,” Skyline music major, Kenny van Dam-Ballard, said. “It speaks to a simpler time.”

But times certainly have changed. An enormous number of retailers are taking to vinyl sales, because that’s what is selling now.

“This is definitely an area of music that consumers are telling us they’re more and more interested in,” , Christopher Bennett, Guitar Center’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, told in an interview.

So interested, in fact, that a new line of record players is slated for Guitar Center shelves in 2015. Retailers aren’t the only ones happy about selling more vinyl; many musicians prefer the trend as well.

“Its really cool, I think,” local independent musician, George Obregon, said. “It was always great buying records in the store, being excited to own this new music. I think it’s great that people are buying music again.”

But what does this really mean for music as a whole? It certainly doesn’t mean digital will die any time soon. In fact, many new records come with download codes so you can have a digital copy of the physical record you just bought. The resurgence of vinyl simply means that the masses are getting interested in the medium again. There’s always been a niche for records though, so much so that Record Store Day takes place on the third Saturday in April every year. The niche for records was never in danger in fact it’s getting bigger.

This may be due in part to the fact that the “hipster” culture and obsession with all things “vintage” is also on the rise, but one can’t know for sure. All that is true at this point is that sales of vinyl are up, and so are the hopes of record-lovers everywhere.

“Vinyl never died,” Van Dam-Ballard said. “It just went to sleep for a while.”