Burning up the Wax: The Chicago Trib talks vinyl


Funk Firm Funk Vector TurntableEric Klister, who writes the Valley Jams blog, linked to a few posts over at the Chicago Tribune’s site on Greg Kot’s blog dealing with vinyl. Kot’s Trib blog Turn It Up: A guided tour through the worlds of pop, rock and rap is a music blog obviously, and these days it’s hard not to notice the prevalence of new vinyl.

Kot’s post Vinyl revival: How a dead format came back for another spin lays out that the vinyl resurgence is coming from both the college aged and from old timers. I thought this quote was choice:

Eric Shah, a 23-year-old law student at Loyola University, says he didn’t start buying vinyl to be cool, but because “I like the sound. It’s closer to the sound you might hear in the studio when the music is being recorded. I like the idea of listening to an artist’s work on vinyl. It becomes a process. You sit down, play through a side, it becomes more singular because you’re more focused on it. It’s not portable. You have to pay attention, turn the record over when it’s done. It encourages active listening.”

That’s actually a pretty good description of the big part of the appeal of vinyl. It encourages active listening. Of course there are other benefits of vinyl such as the great cover art. I’m interested to hear that the college aged – at least some of them – like having a physical connection to the music.

Kot quotes a statistic of six million records sold last year. He doesn’t provide a source, but I think that number includes both new and used albums. The statistics I’ve read is that sales of new albums doubled to around 1.8 million last year. It’s been a steady three year climb.

It’s clear now that the record companies are making money on the vinyl market. The major labels have been re-releasing catalog titles like crazy, in addition to the new stuff. The last time I went to the local record shop, it was like I was back in high school. They had ‘80s stuff by a variety of bands ranging from Gary Numan to Def Leppard. The labels seem to just be throwing a lot of stuff out there to see what sells.

The upswing in the market for vinyl and turntables is only a couple of years old. It’s hard to say whether it will last. But for now, enjoy it while it lasts!