To Tom Kohn at Bop Shop Records, this comes as no surprise.
“I’ve been predicting it for years,” Kohn said. “It’s become an activity for families. I see so many parents coming in with their kids, and they shop together, they’re buying records together. It’s an inherent thing to most humans, they like to collect something. It became this wonderful tactile thing that you could hold in your hands, and be one with, just like a book.”
For Margaret Storms at Record Archive, she recognizes the community and tactile aspect of both the popular used and new vinyl as well.
“Now that portability isn’t an issue, CDs loses a little bit of pastiche, records are this giant great big visual thing,” Storms. “You get to be play with it, you have this whole ritual of putting the record on the platform, I think it makes you more mindful of the music as you’re listening to it. If you’re putting a record on, it’s an activity you can do together, you pick something out, and in 22 minutes you have to flip that record over and pick something else out.”
For Armand Schaubroeck at House of Guitars, it’s simple nostalgia of an old record.
The idea of “ritual” is common to every storeowner we talked to. Mark Kaidy at Hi Fi Lounge was at the forefront of the CD wave, and now he’s on on the vinyl wave that’s coming back. Listening to records has gained another quality in today’s day and age.
“The thing about records I think, it’s something that is completely removed from the internet,” Kaidy said. “With streaming music, it’s one more thing where you’re connected to the internet, and when you’re playing records, you have to go through the whole ritual of playing records if you do it right. You tend to focus on it more, it’s a different experience. People don’t carve out time like they used to listen to music, except if they’re listening to records.”
More people are turning to vinyl because of the well-documented better sound, if the record is mastered correctly. CDs and streaming services “compress” the audio, meaning a lot of data is lost. That might not be noticeable in a car or cheap headphones, but on a system made for listening, it’s easy to detect.
However, now people of all ages are looking for the better sound. Schaubroeck says vinyl used to be just for collectors after its heyday, but it changed when younger people started shopping.
Storms at Archive has noticed another demographic change as well.
“Our largest growing demographic of vinyl shoppers are young women,” she said.
Going forward, Kaidy thinks listener might need to become investors as well.
“If this whole thing is going to have legs, I don’t think the ways it’s going to happen is people listening on these Chinese models that they’re buying for $89,” Kaidy said. “I want people to have a good experience, and that’s how it’s going to happen, if it’s a quality experience for them.”
Both Record Archive and House of Guitars say that the RIAA’s numbers reflect more badly on CDs because larger stores are not selling CDs anymore. Which means more business on used CDs for record stores, who might be ahead of the next trend after vinyl