The demise of the vinyl record has become a statement all to common in the music industry. Vinyl records were supposed to be a dead music format a long time ago, but have persevered through the many technological changes in the music industry.
In this day and age of ipods and digital downloads, where people can fit thousands of songs in such a neat little package, how has the vinyl record managed to compete; what is the allure?
Recent research reveals that teens enjoy the physical experience they get with a vinyl record and the interaction between themselves and the record. There is a certain ritual one must rely on to play a vinyl record, and much to the dismay of the digital world, the youth of the world is receptive to this type of interaction.
For some, collecting vinyl records is an obsession, a life long journey to obtain hidden masterpieces locked away in the attics and basements around the globe. For others, just owning a few selected gems from their favorite band or recording artist is enough to satisfy their collecting palate.
Then there is the thrill of the hunt, scouring the online web sites and auctions looking for a rare or collectible record for their collection. For the adventurous, there are the numerous garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets and the like, that dot the countryside in every town in America. There, they can search through the dusty boxes and bins for their the next special addition to their already growing vinyl record collection. There is almost a sense of pride, self-worth, if you will, in finding what you are looking for, if only to be satisfied for a moment, until you realize you must find another rare treasure to add to your collection.
Ever since Alex Steinweiss designed the first album cover for Columbia Records in 1939, album cover art has been highly collectible and is a part of music history. Classic album covers like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills (designed by Robert Crumb) and Led Zeppelins’ Physical Graffiti are iconic. Some bands enlisted the aid of world renowned artists to design the album covers and concepts for their latest releases, including the Rolling Stones, who used Andy Warhol’s idea for their record album Sticky Fingers.
For some, collecting vinyl is an investment. Not only a monetary investment but a cultural one as well. Vinyl records are part of pop culture as we know it and certainly part of the rock and roll era. Preserving vinyl records, the art, the music, is a very important part of this phenomenon.
But the one thing that sets vinyl apart from all other musical formats is that vinyl records just sound the best. There is no substitute for the sound reproduction that vinyl brings to music, no digital counterpart. And for that, the vinyl record will continue to survive, if not thrive.