Why Vintage Vinyl Records Are Popular in the Digital Age
Vinyl records were the primary medium for listening to music for much of the 20th century. Whether they were listening on 33 or 78 RPM records, vintage vinyl records defined the sounds of many of our parents and grandparents’ lives. But newer cassettes, CDs, mp3s, and digital streaming platforms temporarily exiled these artifacts of music history to garage sales, thrift stores, and attics everywhere. Sometime around the mid 2000s, people started to get back into vinyl, so much so that labels started dropping LPs alongside digital releases and CDs. So, what’s fueling vinyl’s renaissance? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest factors.
3 Big Reasons Vinyl is Back (and Might Be Here to Stay)
No one can doubt that vinyl is back. While it hasn’t reached industry dominance the way it did in the mid 20th century, it’s certainly in demand. These are three of the biggest reasons:
- Vinyl records are tangible. We get it. Your Spotify Premium account has thousands of saved songs and artfully curated playlists. But what if the WiFi’s out? Nothing you can do but wait, I guess. Or, if you have some of your favorite records, that solves that problem.
- Vintage vinyl records are serious collectibles. Diehard collectors are among the music fans fueling vinyl’s rebirth. And it’s not just baby boomers, either. (We’ll address the millennial question later in this article…) Vinyl is relatively niche, but for collectors, it has some serious multi-generational appeal. Whether you love the thrill of finding rare vintage vinyl records for cheap at a local store or you’re all-in for the latest releases, there’s no denying how easy (and lucrative) it can be to collect vinyl today.
- Listening to Vinyl is Simply Better. Vinyl is simply more nuanced. While earbuds and computer speakers get the job done, most music lovers would definitely agree there’s something artificial and lacking in audio quality that most modern and contemporary formats yield.
Vinyl Records & Sound Quality
So, let’s talk about sound quality. Among audiophiles, this is usually the top reason people cite as a catalyst for vinyl’s unlikely resurgence. They’re not just doing it to be pretentious. Most experts find that analog formats like vinyl hold much of recorded music’s original “sounds.” Digital formats by nature are super compressed and a lot of the extra depth is lost. While we do have Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) technology today, you’d definitely have to pay a premium for this. Or, you could just pop into your local record store or order some of your favorite albums online.
It’s Not Just Nostalgia
While older record collectors have been investing heavily in maintaining their collections over the years, vinyl owes a lot of its 21st century rebirth to millennials and Gen Z music lovers. Ironically, streaming is kind of what led them here. Platforms like Spotify and iTunes introduced thousands of trendy teens and younger adults to the nearly-forgotten sounds of shoegaze, hard-to-find late 70’s/early 80’s rap, and other obscure oddities.
So, what’s with younger people and vintage vinyl records? A recent YouGov survey found that one out of four 14 to 18 year olds bought a record last month. While most millennials were barely alive for vinyl’s decline in the 80s, the digital reality most of us live in may have contributed to a sort of generational ennui. Could it be that younger music fans are just searching for something tangible?
Vinyl in the 21st Century
Regardless of the reasons for vinyl’s renewed popularity, there’s no denying that it’s simply something fun, social, and weirdly comforting. People everywhere are finding new ways to bridge those traditional generational gaps and bond over something real and tangible.
So, whatever’s fueling your love of all things vinyl, make sure you’re taking care of your growing collection. Big Fudge is the leading source for vinyl accessories, outer and inner sleeves, cleaning kits, and record storage. Read our blog to learn how to keep your collection looking (and sounding) great.