It’s less than a month until this year’s Record Store Day on 20th April and with announcements of who will be releasing what this year including Foals, David Bowie, Nick Cave and Tame Impala to name but a small few, it seems it’s a good time for fans of vinyl records right now.
Over the past few years they have made a return to popularity in a big way. More and more people are buying record players and 12” and 7” formats are making a return to high street stores such as HMV, Urban Outfitters and John Lewis. But why exactly has something that seemed to be forever a thing of the past become so popular again?
Last year I wrote an article along similar lines but back then the revival was only just starting; now it is in full flow. Back then the consensus from everyone I interviewed was that there were two camps of vinyl buyers – collectors and displayers. Collectors are music lovers who buy vinyl for the sound quality, the limited edition number of copies, the person who will buy the same album on a variety of formats and has certain artist’s entire back catalogues. The displayers are people who buy vinyl because of how it looks, the cover art looks good framed on your wall and a pile of vinyl records looks vintage and cool.
I’m not judging displayers I think cover art looks better on a 12” record than on my iPod but I’m a collector through and through. The displayers category made me question whether this revival would last or if it was just a fashion statement by youngsters. Maybe in some ways it is, either way it’s a brilliant thing for music lovers and it does feel like in some areas of society music is being more appreciated than it has been in a while.
It can be a slightly expensive hobby but the limited edition number of most vinyl releases of the past and present make vinyl buying a serious game. Whereas CD’s and especially digital downloads have an infinite number of copies of singles and albums.
The decline in CD sales which has sadly affected HMV pushed many into the world of digital downloads against their will. Here is where independent record stores come in such as Rough Trade in London and here in my home city of Sheffield is Record Collector who, through all the turbulent decades of the music industry, still proudly stands here selling records from artists you know and love to acts you will never have heard of before in your life.
And if you think vinyl is all about old music mainly mid-80’s and prior then you’d be wrong, my entire vinyl collection so far is from the bands of today with my most recent purchase being Foals new album ‘Holy Fire’.
Whether it started out as a fashion statement, a reaction to the decline of CD sales or as a by-product of the introduction and huge success of Record Store Day with its limited edition and special releases, it seems like the vinyl revival is in full swing and here to stay as we become increasingly obsessed with reliving the past through clothes, TV programmes and the way we listen to our music.