4 Recording Artists Who Prefer Listening to Music on Vinyl Over Digital

Posted on July 04 2019

Listening to vinyl records is something that shaped the lives of music lovers for much of the 20th century. So, it’s no surprise that many influential artists appreciated (and sometimes still prefer) vinyl over more accessible formats and digital streaming services. A love for vinyl music crosses genres, too. Let’s take a look at a few artists whose love of vinyl is anything but nostalgic.

Ray Charles

As one of the most iconic American artists of all time, Ray Charles’ R&B, blues, and gospel music defined these genres just as vinyl music was nearing its heyday. With such an influential reach, Ray Charles also had a strong preference for vinyl over other formats. He was quoted saying, "If I was a billionaire, and had my time all over, I would invest all of my money in setting up a factory to produce vinyl records again.”

The musician continued, “...The moment it went digital, they destroyed the form. The CD was a confidence trick ...It wasn't just music that people used to buy, it was a total art form. ...I think that's what people like. They like it personal. They like vinyl because if you scratch vinyl, it'll be scratched, but it'll be your scratch. It will only be on your record.”

Henry Rollins, Black Flag

While Henry Rollins’ tenure in Black Flag and reputation as punk’s progressive elder statesman came much later and in a musical sense had little in common with Ray Charles’ prolific style, the two artists shared a common perspective many musicians still feel.

henry rollins shirtless music show

As Rollins told NME, "Vinyl is important to me because what’s on it is real. It is what the musicians wanted you to hear. There is no such thing as ‘digital music’. Digital technology can emulate music and that technology is getting better, but there is no Led Zeppelin on a Led Zeppelin CD. There isn’t a nanosecond of music on any music streaming service."

Lars Ulrich, Metallica

In a similar sentiment, Lars Ulrich of Metallica weighed in on vinyl music’s tangible qualities and also told NME, "It’s the ritual element of it. It’s running your finger down the side to try to open the plastic wrap, and usually cutting that part under your nail. Then pulling it out, and seeing if there’s an inner sleeve, and hoping for a gatefold. Nowadays, you just walk over to your computer, you click three times, and you have 140,000 songs at your fingertips. It was just a different kind of thing – and it still is."

Robert Pollard, Guided by Voices

While not as commercially well-known as the other artists in this list, Robert Pollard and Guided by Voices revolutionized the nascent indie rock sound of the early 90’s. Though Pollard and Guided by Voices didn’t really make waves until vinyl had already went into its first big decline, he shared many contemporary artists’ perspective of vinyl as something ‘tangible and real,’ and once said, "I don’t think it’s real unless you put it on an LP. CDs aren’t real. Anybody can do that. That’s ok with me. When we first started making records, it was hard to do, you had to get the money together if you weren’t on a label, and you had to spend some money to put out an LP.”

robbert pollard performing music live

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