It may come as a bit of a shock but vinyl is on the rise. The medium is showing huge growth for the first time in about thirty years. ARIA reported in 2013 that while digital sales enjoyed a revenue growth of 0.5% vinyl smashed them with a 77% growth for the year. Most people are content with blaming ‘the hipsters’ for this strange turn in format consumption along with the prevalence of single speed bicycles. However with International Record Store Day coming up soon we thought we’d try to explain why people have started buying back into analogue magic.
We’re in an age where consuming music can be done practically everywhere, on the tram, on the toilet, even while we’re camping (which, thankfully, has spelled the end of many fireplace sing-alongs).
The problem with this ease of listening is that it’s taken away so much of what makes music great. We lost the ability to listen to something we don’t instantly love, we demand a hook every seven seconds, anything that doesn’t grab our attention in the intro is skipped and forever forgotten.
We now listen for instant gratification, we listen because we want to be the first to hear the new [insert band name here] and we listen to escape the rants of religious fanatics, department store radio and nagging parents. People have even accepted listening to algorithm recommended music over making their own choices, which is kind of sad.
It’s rare that we listen to a particular album in its entirety. Even rarer that we simply sit and give an album our full attention. Listening to an album on vinyl offers magical inconvenience, a distinct lack of portability and a demand of our attention that digital formats pardon. This digital convenience means we’ve forgotten how to listen to an album, and as a result people have forgotten how to make an album.
Those who contributed to the resurgence of vinyl sales seem to have made a conscious decision to go against the listening habits that we’ve developed in the last 10 years. Habits that are a product of iTunes single sales, the shuffle button, music streaming, digital releases and hype-fueled internet culture.
Now don’t get us wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with listening to spotify or soundcloud or ‘buying’ music digitally. We’re just saying that vinyl has its place too. It’s hard to top lying on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and listening to music with no buffering, spotify ads or a fast-forward button. There’s a wonderful physical ritual of placing a needle down onto an actual object and listening to close to an hour of music that has been arranged in that particular order by actual human beings. And then there’s the sound, believe it or not vinyl simply sounds better than any other form of recorded music. It bathes your ears in a warm smooth sound and connects you to the original source like nothing else. Music simply shouldn’t be filtered through sample rates and digital compression. It should issue from bumps, grooves and vibrations. When you listen to vinyl you’re listening to the same vibrations that came from the guitar, drums or synthesizer in a studio where a little moment of sonic magic happened. What on earth could possibly be better than that?
Record Store Day is coming up on the 19th of April. Which means a you’ve got a month to raid your mum and dad’s garage, pinch their record player and make off with that precious vinyl.