Vinyl is Getting its Groove Back

by: Andrew Fader

vinyl1 by Mia Martins(1)
(Photo by Mia Martins)

Over the course of the time people have gone through numerous ways to listen to music.  What started with the vinyl record in 1943, became cassette tapes in 20 years, CD’s in the next 15, has now transformed to the iPod and streaming.  Now that most music is being streamed online everything that came before seems antiquated. However, you may be surprised at what’s making a comeback in recent years.
A local Newbury Comics has been seeing an increase in vinyl sales, a trend that seems to be occurring all across the U.S.
“The past year and a half we’ve been seeing a huge revival,” says Alex Shuman, an assistant manager at the Newbury Comics located at 31 Sack Blvd. in Leominster. In fact, Shuman says that her store’s selection of vinyl “…has increased 50% over the past year.”
With the introduction of compact disks to the mainstream market in the late ’80s and early ’90s vinyl sales reached “an all-time low” states The Daily Texan. But, since 2009 “vinyl album sales have grown more than 250 percent, rising to 9.2 million in 2014 from 2.8 million in 2010” says the Nielsen Company.
Even though digital sales of music remain dominant CD sales are declining. The audio quality of CDs is comparable to streaming quality, but streaming is much more accessible. Vinyl’s success lies in its greater quality in sound.  Alex Shuman thinks that the resurgence is, in part, due to, “People have an appreciation for quality. That quality, and the act of taking care of something is a big reason for the increase”
In fact, Shuman described that this past Record Store Day (an annual event that celebrates independent record stores and vinyl culture each April by selling specifically pressed records for participating stores) her Newbury Comics store had “Thirty to forty people lined up the night before.” “[Current vinyl makes close to a quarter of our sales” says Shuman.
“Newbury has 1% of all national vinyl sales” claims Shuman. The stores focus on vinyl is readily apparent as a large wall in the store displays a few of the vinyl records that Newbury actually press themselves.
vinyl 2 by Marc Wathieu(1)
“Photo by Marc Wathieu”

It’s not just the people working at record stores that are seeing this trend. Both the Daily Texan and The New York Times have reported on how pressing plants are roaring back to life and that the demand is so high that these plants are being backed up. There have even been talks about getting more of these plants up and running to meet the demand.
Whatever the future holds for vinyl, it’s clear that its revival and renaissance has taken many in the industry by surprise, although it should become less surprising as the trend continues.  In an era where music is easier to listen to than ever a small but growing minority champion for quality. When asked on her thoughts of the future of vinyl Shuman thinks that sales will, “Continue to grow for next 2 to 3 years. Beyond that it’s hard to say.”