Why We Cherish Physical Media Like Vinyl Records
Posted on April 19 2022
Just because everything can be digitized now, doesn’t mean everything should.
Physical media like a vinyl record is still valuable, worthwhile, and desired, and not just in older generations. People across all generations can appreciate the difference between physical media vs. digital media, and we should all understand its worth.
We’ll walk you through the many reasons people choose vinyl records, including nostalgia, hobbies, or the unique experience. We promise, vinyl isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!
1) Digital Storage Isn’t Always Reliable
Physical media can decay, be irreparably damaged, get destroyed in an accident, or otherwise cease to function. For this reason, many people have abandoned physical media for security reasons and shifted to digital storage.
However, digital media isn’t always more secure if it’s owned by a corporation that makes decisions outside of your control. Streaming services can remove media at any time, even if you’ve saved it to your library. Think of how often Netflix or Spotify lose contracts or delete media. Think of how often YouTube copyright strikes videos and instantly removes them, often without a trace left on the internet. Think of how often people get locked out of cloud storage accounts (such as Dropbox) or the accounts get hacked. For all these reasons and more, people shouldn’t always rely on cloud storage to store their treasured media forever.
Basically, neither method of media storage is perfect. A healthy mix (and always having a backup!) is the best way to go. But using physical means for media storage isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
2) Old Physical Media Can Be Collected
As vinyl records and cassettes get older, both the media and the machines used to play them naturally become more valuable. These pieces of media degrade without the proper care and storage. A whole new generation of people are collecting these items and treating them as treasures to be protected and preserved.
The artwork of album covers on vinyl records is also collected like any other rare and valuable artwork. As these records have ceased to be produced, there is now a finite amount, and they can be collected like valuable antiques. It’s both a fun hobby and a kind of “treasure hunt” for music and art appreciators to enjoy.
3) The Sound and Feeling of Physical Media Vs. Streaming Is Very Different
It’s true that in the debate of physical media vs. streaming, streaming has some obvious benefits: no storage space requirement, incredible amounts of media on demand, and affordable subscription prices, just to name a few. But digital media can never replace the real, tactile feeling and sound of something like records.
Digital recordings are very polished and pure, but with a vinyl record, every track is different. The tiny scratches and wear on a record make every listening experience unique. The sound of a record is quite different. Audiophiles agree that there’s nothing quite like the unique sound of a vinyl record.
You might wonder if discs like CDs or Blu-Rays are becoming obsolete, but there’s a difference there, too. Blu-Rays can come with higher audio quality than streaming (e.g. Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos) making them a must for home theaters and collectors.
4) Physical Media Increasingly Evokes Nostalgia and Curiosity
As CDs, cassettes, vinyl, and the like become more dated, they increasingly evoke a sense of curiosity in younger generations and nostalgia in the older generations that remember them. That sense of curiosity is something that separates physical media vs. digital media.
Records are a very pure and raw piece of the year they came from. The sound and appearance of a record is a slice of history. Some records have a personal significance: a record could be the one your parents listened to on their first date, for instance. Some records have been so loved they’ve been worn down to a husky, muddled sound.
Vinyl records also evoke a technical curiosity. Records allowed, for virtually the first time, for the same sound to be played on demand across the world. It’s fascinating to see how sounds are made from simply a spinning needle on a disc, rather than a computer that typically hides all its moving parts.
5) Physical Media Allows You To Fully Live in the Moment
Sometimes digital media doesn’t feel “real” or tangible. It’s just pixels on the screen in one area while a dozen other pop-ups, programs, tabs, and taskbars fight for your attention.
When you are physically present with the object that’s playing your music, for example, the experience is much more personal and intimate. Playing music on Spotify doesn’t always feel as authentic as listening to something on a record or a CD that you have to hold and touch and start yourself. Reading a book is another example: some people greatly prefer the experience of feeling the pages, seeing the words, and having to physically turn the pages to continue the adventure.
Not everyone feels this way, but many do. Simply put, physical media helps some people slow down and stay in the moment.
6) Collecting and Organizing Physical Media Is Simply — Fun!
At the end of the day, collecting media like vinyl records is just plain fun! Assembling a collection, displaying it, organizing it, and taking new records out for a spin is a simple joy that many people have lost.
With algorithms and automatic digital curation, we’ve lost the simple joy of discovery and curation that comes with finding media like vinyl records. There’s nothing like the feeling of discovering a new and unique record or cassette that speaks to you, with no algorithm or social media post telling you you’ll like it. That feeling comes from a different society that no longer really exists, and some people chase it.
Come to Big Fudge for Premium Vinyl Record Supplies
Organizing and protecting vinyl records comes with unique requirements, including specialized cleaning tools and storage solutions. At Big Fudge, we help collectors and hobbyists find the right materials to keep their records preserved for another generation. If you’re after the unique feeling and sound of physical media, visit our store and get inspired to create your collection.