The Vinyl Revival: Records Are Cool Again

By: Robert Benson

Had the vinyl record finally met its match? In 1982, the compact disc was introduced to the music world and the record album was supposed to fade away like the dreaded eight track tapes that you may have heard your grandfather talk about.

But audiophiles, collectors, DJs and the artists who make the music had kept up the demand for vinyl records throughout the years. Then, came another challenge for the vinyl record: the music downloads...MP3 mania…the digital phenomenon, or whatever you choose to call it.

But something revolutionary is happening. Vinyl is cool again. Teenagers, who once scoffed at their parent's record collections, now wait in line to get the latest releases. In fact, according to the British Phonograph Industry (BPI), sales of 7" singles (45 rpm) surpassed the one million mark recently.

Now will this "revival" migrate across the Atlantic and push vinyl sales up in America? Will this be the next "British Invasion," albeit a different format? Time will tell, but if popular bands like the White Stripes, Primal Scream, Keane and indie favorites the Arctic Monkeys keep insisting their material is released via the seven-inch single, the teens who buy this music will keep responding and sales will continue to grow and so will the format.

Furthermore, it is not just the alternative bands or indie bands that release their material on vinyl. Mainstream artists like Neil Young, Madonna, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and many more have continued to utilize this format and there is excitement about Beck's new album. Beck is taking a unique approach to album cover design, selling a blank cover with a choice of four sticker sheets individually designed by artists Jasper Goodall and Han Lee. Fans can make their own album covers.

What is the allure, the attraction to the clumsy, hard to handle records? As recent research suggests, some people are drawn in by the physical nature of the record, the actual handling of the music, the interaction between the person, the record and the phonograph. There is almost a ritual to the handling and playing of a phonograph record.

Young people have heard that records sound better than their sterile cd counterparts and digital downloads, now they are experiencing the true sound that vinyl records bring to the music. There is a certain warmth, an ambience that a vinyl record brings to the music. And since the human ear hears in analog sound, and not digital format, vinyl naturally sounds better. So this is the secret that all the audiophiles knew all along!

However, it isn't just teens who are buying vinyl records. People are also picking up the hobby of collecting records and baby boomers are buying albums they used to own when they were in high school. But it is not only the music that intrigues the masses. Album cover art has long been highly collectible and now you can have your favorite album framed into a beautiful piece of art! It is the best and the only way to preserve these wonderful treasures of musical history.

With this new interest in vinyl, the online community has responded. Besides the online auction sites, from mom and pop sites to major retailers, buying records online has become an irresistible source for record collectors or anyone interested in buying vinyl. Rare vinyl, once thought to be gone forever, is now resurfacing in online shops all over the Internet.

Will this trend continue? One can only guess, but the vinyl record, as prehistoric as it is; will never go out of style.

Copyright (c) 2006 Robert Benson

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