When was the last time you bought a CD? After the advent of streaming programs like Spotify.com or Pandora.com, can you even remember the last time you downloaded an album? It’s no secret CD sales have been steadily declining, even long before people started downloading or streaming music, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better for the compact disc industry. Digital ownership has quickly become the norm for music lovers.
However, there’s one market slowly (very slowly) creeping back with rising sales. And it’s nothing new to consider. Much like your parents and their parents before them, if one wanted to own high quality music, you got a record player and you got some records for it. While still much of a niche market, and likely to continue to be one for the time being, there is something not only retro or vintage about vinyls, but also very special about listening to music from one.
Nowadays, listening to music isn’t much of an experience; you don’t even have to buy a whole album anymore, just cherry pick the one song you like and listen to it ad nauseam if that’s what you’re into. With vinyl records, it’s encouraged to listen to an album the whole way through, without trying to skip tracks (a more difficult feat on a record player).
Becoming a vinyl aficionado is even easier than before. Getting a decent record player isn’t too expensive and if you’re looking for records to play, the best place to get them isn’t really online, it’s in the brick and mortar stores.
Barnes & Noble and Urban Outfitters may have well-sized collections of records for the budding enthusiast, but if you want real choice, you have to check out the independent record stores for the best prices and most importantly, the most interesting finds. Places like Academy Records in New York and the Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey have some of the most satisfying assemblages of records available, whether you’re looking for 1989 from Taylor Swift or hoping to find a copy of The Clash’s London Calling.
No one is claiming that vinyls are going to overtake CDs or digital downloads, and of course, they aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a new way to listen and enjoy music, there’s a certain magic in doing it the old fashioned way.
By David Grom / Featured Photo: Mark J. Sebastian