However , not long after that, in 2007 vinyl seemed to be creeping back into the consciousness of consumers and music lovers.
During most of the twentieth century the dominant musical format was vinyl records. 33 rpm ,
45 rpm and even at one point 78 rpm records. 12”,10” and 7 “. The first vinyl record was
created in 1930 by RCA Victor. The first ever record was in 1889 but this was made from
more of a hard rubber and other materials.
Despite other formats such as reel to reel tape, eight track tape and cassette tape , vinyl
remained king. None of these formats was able to overtake vinyl. At some point that
changed . But what happened ? Well, in the mid eighties digital compact discs were
introduced. These were smaller and easier to carry around . You could put a ton in a cd book
and bring them to play in your car which now had cd players installed standard. Oh, the
convenience! In 1988 Compact Discs surpassed vinyl in popularity.
This trend continued through the nineties and vinyl became less and less in vogue. By the
late nineties not only were Compact Discs the dominant force but in 1999 music could be
downloaded for free through websites such as Napster. Other websites such as Kazaa and
Limewire also appeared at this time and anyone who wanted to could download any music
they chose for free. At this point most stores were clearing out their vinyl records and you
could get absolute classic lps for a buck or two. Vinyl for sure seemed like a dead format.
Most cities around the world still had a few stores that would sell vinyl along with Compact
Discs but those were hard to find. You had to make the effort. By 2003 pay services such as
itunes had emerged so people could purchase digital music for their computer or ipod and
frequently have thousands of songs at their disposal in their pocket.
However , not long after that, in 2007, vinyl seemed to be creeping back into the
consciousness of consumers and music lovers. This was the first year that vinyl saw a slight
increase in sales. This was also the year that Record Store Day was founded and it is still
going as of 2021 with three record store days , drop one , drop two and black friday. Record
sales have continued to climb since 2007 and now has seen such a rise that record pressing
plants cannot keep up. Often times new vinyl presses can take months to get done even after
the album has been released on spotify or other streaming platforms.
So what happened ? Why the shift from a convenient format in digital downloads , stream or
compact discs to vinyl records which take time and need storage space and stereo
equipment to play ? In my opinion it is the experience of listening to vinyl along with the
ability to have a tangible item that you own. A digital download can disappear or be removed
and this has happened with itunes. Also, you won’t have an album that you don’t want
slipped into your collection unlike what has happened with itunes (I am looking at you ,U2).
Initally, the return seemed to be the domain of the middle aged and older who had a
connection to vinyl records having grown up with the format. But in recent years the much
younger crowd has become a large part of the vinyl collector crowd. Again, the fact that vinyl
is something tangible and the experience of listening to a record is an event . It is time
consuming but that’s sort of the point. It is the experience that makes it better. Some say
vinyl sounds better than digital but that is something that could be argued until the end of
time. Some probably just prefer the sound of a digital recording. But putting a record on the
turntable , watching it spin and looking at the album cover and liner notes creates a much
different feeling than simply pressing play on Spotify .
I don’t see vinyl going away anytime soon as it seems to be back for good. More stores are
opening all the time and major retailers carry vinyl so it’s pretty much everywhere .I feel this
is a good thing overall. As long as we make sure to support the small record stores as much
as we can afford to as that is the heart of the vinyl resurgence and that kind of support will
keep vinyl around in the public consciousness for good.