Well first of all, vinyl never really died. It decreased in sales when CD became famous in the late 80s but there were still a bunch of people who are vinyl freaks. Vinyl sales dropped fast but it continually increased in sales years after, peaking in 2006 and it never stopped going up since then. Years later, here we are. The Recording Industry Association of America, LP vinyl records accounted for $232.1 million of music sales in the first six months of 2020, whereas CDs have only brought in $129.9 million. This is the first time since 1986 that vinyl has outsold CDs.
Today, you don’t have to be a hotshot musician in order to release vinyl because one great benefit of the internet is that you can also find ways to lessen the risk of financial loss. Nowadays, you can make as few as 50 units and just sell it on your website or even do pre-order (they buy before you press vinyl) so you are sure every vinyl you press will get sold. Although vinyl is still relatively expensive to make, there are many tricks and tips for a cheap vinyl record pressing. Because of this, many musicians from the big wigs like Lady Gaga to the new indie kids on the block have more confidence to release some vinyl records. This is beneficial to any release because not only will you get more bucks considering you sell all of your vinyl, you also get this “coolness factor” that legitimizes you as a musician. I mean, if we see a band we don’t even know and they’re selling vinyl, we automatically think that they’re cool–not newbies, with cool gimmicks, definitely confident enough with their stuff to put it on vinyl!
But of course, this is just one part of the equation. The other part is the consumers. Why do people still buy vinyl records nowadays? And not just the oldies, more and more millennials and even Gen Zs are into vinyl, too?
For the ones born in the vinyl era, it could be mainly nostalgia. Some of us really just like the way things were done in the past when music wasn’t as easily accessible as they are now. We like searching for our favorite records, taking the vinyl very carefully out of its sleeve, and putting it carefully on the turntable. We like the sound of it– more textured, more warm…a very cozy feeling that reminds us of simpler times pre-internet. So basically, for the older folks, it’s mainly nostalgia and romanticism.
For the younger ones or the oldies who just recently discovered the joy of listening to music on vinyl, our guess is as good as yours. We assume it is the wonderful feeling of owning something really cool (and quite expensive) from their favorite bands. Imagine owning a special edition vinyl record of, let’s say, Billie Eilish or Weezer. It must feel like you’re a true-blue superfan, not like the thousands of others who just listen to Spotify. You own something from the band which you can forever put in your living room, which you can share to your friends, which you can take photos and videos of and share to your Instagram.
It could also just be the sound quality because vinyl sounds warmer than digital, but I doubt it’s just that– that it’s just how the actual music and sound waves are loved by our eardrums. We like how vinyl sounds alright (and most can’t even tell the difference) but I am sure of one thing, what we love more than audio quality is how the vinyl listening experience makes us feel– a bit of an old soul who loves music more than the regular Spotify-listening girl or guy.