Record Sales See A Resurgence

Madelyn Sorgenfrei, Entertainment Editor

As senior Parker Gross sets up ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ by AC/DC on his record player, he sits down to enjoy the music in his loft. Next to him is the crate containing the rest of his vinyl records.

“I decided I wanted to collect records because I like old music and that’s how it was produced,” Gross said. “I thought it would be cool to listen to them in that format. I’ve only been to a couple of the record stores around here but I own about fifteen or sixteen records. I got a lot of my records from family members who had old ones, as Christmas gifts.”

Record sales surpassed CD sales for the first time in decades in 2020. In 2022, they rose by 22 percent and continue to rise. Owner Joel Gray of Tonik’s Lab in Eau Gallie has watched the transition of music from physical to digital formats.

“Primarily, vinyl has made an outstanding comeback because of its tangibility,” Gray said. “You can buy it, sell it, trade it. It has value, unlike digital downloads that are simply lost in a sea of hard drives or iTunes accounts. Records can be aesthetically pleasing as a decoration in your house, shared with your friends as a listening experience or even as a collectible hobby. There are so many reasons that vinyl has made a comeback outside of the simple fact that it sounds great. The market of vinyl has opened up many other lost avenues of the world such as vinyl turntable DJ’ing.”

Online sites, like Discogs, are popular among vinyl collectors because of the amount of inventory they possess. Music collectors buy and sell using sites like these as a marketplace for any music they may be looking for.

“I’ve found the most effective online shop to be Discogs,” Technology Coordinator Anthony Albert said. “It’s like a focused ‘eBay’ for music lovers.  It also has a very strong community of dedicated collectors that maintain the database and release information on a regular basis.  Every morning, I can open my messages from Discogs and find a new list of items that are newly available for purchase. This gets me in trouble sometimes, as I’ll see a great deal and can’t avoid just buying it right then.”

In 2018, the Marist Poll reported that only 56 percent of Americans prefer physically shopping to online shopping. This, in tandem with the rise of streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, had greatly diminished vinyl and CD sales up until recent years.

“If I’m in a store where I can find vinyl, like antique malls, or strip malls, I’ll definitely stop and have a look,” Albert said. “You never know what kind of amazing deal you can find in a physical store. But more often than not, I’m looking for something very specific. I remember when I was a kid looking for that specific record in all the stores around town over and over and never finding it. Of course, it’s kismet when you do actually locate exactly what you’re looking for in a store – but it’s just easier to shop online. Almost all of the online sellers have physical stores also, which means it supports the industry.”

Music has been made more accessible through many platforms, leaving vinyl behind. Cheaper alternatives like CDs and streaming platforms overshadowed vinyl for many years.

“Napster was a big deal years ago because it was destroying the tangible music industry,” Gray said. “That was how artists got paid, it wasn’t the concerts or touring that paid the artists, it was record sales. Amazingly enough for most record stores there is very little profit in new production vinyl. In today’s business model, small record stores hold a ton of risk in investment. Most distributors on the web don’t even have a physical location and undercut everyone else.”

Vinyl sales have been rising for the last 16 years and infiltrated the era of digital music. Younger collectors are partaking in the novelty of vinyl in this digital age while older collectors are in it for the nostalgia.

“I personally am heavy on the nostalgia side,” Albert said. “I wasn’t able to amass a giant collection when I was a kid because CDs were the new hotness pretty early on, but I do remember some records I had back then that I’ve re-purchased recently and I enjoy reliving those times from my past. The biggest reason I enjoy the hobby is because I think it’s important to really listen to music. There is something romantic about taking 45 minutes to sit still with a record sleeve, hearing the impossibly accurate music being generated by the simple movement from right-to-left of a single needle. It’s great therapy. Music is magic, it really is.”