The first recorded sound was Thomas Edison’s voice reciting a part of the rhyming song “Mary had a Little Lamb” in 1877. 10 years later, Emile Berliner created the first device that could record and playback sound using a flat disc. 60 years later records and record players were an improved staple in everybody’s houses, with 33 and 45 RPM records supplanting most other formats in the post-WWII years.
In the 70s, though, records player technology was evolved and at some point, it was almost forgotten. Cassettes were coming and going. Later on, CDs appeared and even later the MP3s did. As for now all of that is replaced by smartphones and apps like Spotify, to entertain our ears.
However, to our surprise, 2020 marks the first year after a period of a whole generation since records sales have passed CD sales. CD sales have dropped dramatically while vinyl sales boomed. The first thing that comes to mind is that nostalgic Boomers and Gen Xers are to blame for that (or to thank), but surveys show otherwise. Millennials and younger generations are the ones that make the sales rise for vinyl.
One might ask, why keep on listening to records when all this new technology is available to us and why forget all about other older technology but persist in keeping vinyl? Charlie Randal, CEO of Mclntosh Labs says: “I think it’s natural for any generation to think that the technology of their time will be replaced by future technology and go extinct. In large part, I think that’s the case except with vinyl records. There is something romantic about records, something satisfying about opening the album jacket, seeing the fantastic artwork, and studying the liner notes while listening to the album. That’s something that today’s digital files just can’t replace.”
All in all, besides feeling nostalgic for old music technology and romantic, there is also another aspect that makes one invest in records. Living in a digital world, where music is accessible almost in all apps, getting a record makes fans feel more connected to the artist they support. Records create this special feeling that you get an actual piece of your favorite singer since their voice, their music is pressed on vinyl. Bonus: vinyl records are pieces that never age. You can have them for years and then, like legacy, pass them on to your children. Unlike your Spotify account.
Words by: Vasiliki Roussou