The vinyl comeback is like many trends that have been passed from one generation to a next. It is apparent in many iterations of media that the comeback is happening. My research shows that not only is there a debate about the commercial opportunities surrounding the vinyl comeback, but also objective reasons such as overall quality in scientific terms of the music that is being put out.
I have been a collector and listener of vinyl for some time so you may assume that because of this I am biased towards the medium. I can tell you that I am not. As a music producer, it is hard for me to not pay attention to the nuanced aspects of the quality of music. I like to base my judgement for the medium of listening on the scientific data. That being said I do appreciate listening to vinyl at times over listening to a high-quality lossless audio file on a proper sound system. Many people prefer the ‘pops’ & ‘crackles’ of a needle on a vinyl record.
“But the conventional wisdom [of nostaligia] is too simplistic, as it so often is”, says David Sax of the L.A Times, “Across the board, consumers who weren’t even around when these technologies first lost their prominence are driving their resurgence” (Sax, 2017). Sax is referring to the fact that many people who grew up in the era of vinyl have moved on and recognized the superiority of other mechanisms for listening.
video by TJR on Youtube.
If it isn’t for the nostalgia factor then what really is the reason for why such an outdated method of listening to music is making a noticeable comeback. There are so many other mediums for listening to audio that have since come out following the era of vinyl. Cassette tapes were developed in the 60’s, Laser disks were popular in the 80’s, and their technological predecessor, Compact disks, gained notoriety in the 90’s. All of these ways of listening to music should be nostalgic to the generations that bore these technologies but there are also many other factors at play in the complex trend of vinyl. My parents never owned these records. I got them at a flea market. They aren’t nostalgic to me; I didn’t grow up with them.
Chris Morris of Fortune.com considers that this attribue could be associated with ‘Record Store Day‘ (Morris, 2016). Morris points out that vinyl sales have risen to great hights in 2015 according to this RIAA study about vinyl album revenue https://www.riaa.com/vinyl-still-rocks/. So was it a holiday that brought back vinyl? I don’t know and I want to find out.
So vinyl is being exposed now as a hip way of lisetning to music new and old. What about overall sound quality of the audio being played? Digital files are often compressed in order to save space. The causes the dynamic range of the song to be limited. Gene DellaStall describes vinyl as not being subject to this compression yeilding a much better listening experience. I agree with this point since I come from a backround of audio production and can appreciate a song that has a varying dynamic range.
The reason I fell in love with vinyl is not because of the sound of the record being played but with how the record could be manipulated. Turntablism is the art of using records to chop up and edit songs live and mix them in with other tracks on other vinyls. The sound of a record being scracthed, that is putting your hand on it and moving it back and forth rhythmically, is unparralled to the digital mediums imitation. That is why I like vinyl. DJ’s have been responsible of collecting huge quantities of records since the 1970’s. Ollie Teeba is a DJ that is interested in the record collections of artists who made the original samples that are often used in hip-hop music. In order to play a unique set that will interest people is by playing and mixing music people have and have never heard in new and forward thinking ways.
Through my research and content creation I am to dig deeper into why the medium is so prevalent and in some cases preferred in today’s society by people who didn’t even grow up with exposure to the medium.