Who’s turning all these tables?
I’m talking about records.
Can you believe that vinyl sales are booming?
Neither can I. But I read it on the internet.
Where truth reigns.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, in the first half of 2020, more vinyl records were sold than CDs.
This technology has been outdated since my birth, surpassed by cassettes (my preferred nostalgia machine), CDs, and now digital streaming. You can’t make curated playlists. You can’t download them onto your phone.
You can’t even play them in your car.
So who’s buying them?
Audiophiles, sure. But audiophiles have always been around, and I can’t imagine there’s been a six-fold increase in the number of people who insist that records are the best way to “experience” music.
It’s not pandemic related. This steady increase has been going on since 2010, and sales are at their highest levels since the 1980’s.
“It’s the hipsters,” my friend Scott suggested.
That would seem right if all this vinyl was being bought in second hand shops, as hipsters dug through old classics.
But I’ve seen records at Barnes and Noble, and Target.
That’s right, Target.
Not exactly the epicenter of the counterculture.
And the selection at B&N and Target is downright bizarre—I could understand buying a vinyl version of stone cold classics like Joni Mitchell’s Blue album, the Beatles’ White Album, or Johnny Cash’s Live At Folsom Prison.
But are people really breaking down the door to get a vinyl copy of the Pretty Woman soundtrack?
And the Frozen soundtrack is not exactly an exercise in nostalgia.
Are there ten-year-olds running around saying, “Hearing Let It Go on vinyl is just a much more immersive experience. It takes me right back to when I was nine and first heard Idina Menzel’s voice. There’s just no comparing the quality to an MP3, man. Now can you pass me my goldfish crackers and sippy cup?”
Of course, vinyl and CDs combined are still just a drop in the bucket compared to streaming, the juggernaut that has devoured nearly all music sales. Neither vinyl nor CDs can compete with having nearly every song ever recorded available with the tap of a button and a ten dollar a month subscription.
I don’t have any records, and I still haven’t fully embraced streaming.
Instead, I’m still growing my CD collection. Forty years from now, when it returns from the dead, I’m gonna look like a genius.
At least, that’s the plan.