High school and college kids weaned on iPods and mp3 players since childhood are putting away their portable devices and dusting off their parents’ old vinyl; a once-dead medium is making a grandiose comeback.
Whether it is desire for a warmer sound or a more interactive way to hear music, teens are putting away their iPods to get groovy with their parents’ collection of classic vinyl.
“Records have that warm fuzziness and crackling that makes me nostalgic for the 60’s or 70’s, even though I wasn’t alive during that time,“ says college sophomore Jessica Smith.
This new trend suits a student’s budget just fine, as vinyl is plentiful and cheap in thrift stores and in the used-record bins at independent record stores all over. In addition to MP3 and CD formats, contemporary musicians are starting to release their music on vinyl as a way to get hip to the revival of records. Newly released albums on vinyl tend to be pricier than their digital counterparts but listeners feel they get their money’s worth with the larger artwork and the warmer sound.
Independent record stores stoke the passion for vinyl with events such as Record Store Day, an annual, nationwide affair that celebrates music through the sale of special and exclusive releases that won’t break the bank.
Cactus Music & Record Ranch, which has sold music in Houston since the early 1970s, reports an ever-growing audience for vinyl. “We sell roughly twice as many LPs today as we did a year ago,” says Quinn Bishop, the store’s general manager. “And the future looks bright, as more record labels and artists embrace the resurgence of vinyl.”
Former White Stripes front man Jack White plays a leading role in this revival movement, having created Third Man Records (its motto, “Your turntable is not dead”) in Nashville in 2009, with a record store and rehearsal/photo studio that features live acts, a dark room, and much more. White’s inventory of records that he produces and sells in-store are printed and pressed locally, and often has crazy cool designs and shapes to catch the eye and lure in the younglings.
In a recent interview, White explained the romance of vinyl: “I like the idea of having it in your hands . . . you can’t hold an MP3. I understand the portability of that, but this is about putting in a [record] and dropping a needle and sitting down and looking at the cover [. . . ]. That’s the romance of music that we’re losing in this generation.”
The physicality that accompanies the vinyl trend seems to be a driving force for its ever-ascending popularity. “Packaged within each record are components that evoke a certain emotion, and make me value the material more,” says college junior Jave Del Rosario. “You can’t get a result like that from just ripping a CD onto iTunes.” For the time being, it seems as if young people are in favor of an older, vintage technology. Whether it is the sound quality, price, or look, all we know is that vinyl is making a killer comeback. Looks like Steve Jobs may have some competition.
Lily Angelle is a Radio-Television-Film major at The University of Texas in Austin, TX. She hopes to one day be a cinematographer or screenwriter. In her spare time she enjoys going to concerts, and often writes music reviews for the blog “30 Days Out.” Lily’s favorite bands are Weezer, The Beatles, and The Velvet Underground. You can often find her studying on campus in the Cactus Cafe, or around Austin at Home Slice, her favorite pizza place.