Vinyl Records are Making a Comeback

Maya Colchamiro, Staff Writer

Vintage trends have become increasingly popular. With this is the new surge in the admiration and purchase of records.  “Vinyl sales in the U.S. increased from 21.5 million units in 2020 to 41.7 million units last year [2021]”, according to a 2021 report from  MRC Data-Billboard, and this jump in consumption has led to more wealth in the slowly dying physical music industry. Like any other form of art, this industry struggles to keep up with digital forms of media, but the new surge in vinyl popularity helps companies continue to produce physical forms of music. Additionally, many artists were not able to tour during COVID, so the music industry as a whole required some form of profit, leading to heightened production of vinyls.

While this can also be attributed to the internet, many others believe that the pandemic caused this new wave of the love of vinyl records. While this may seem like a reach, the more you think about it, the more it makes complete, utter sense. From baking bread to Zoom calls to random Netflix series, everyone knows that boredom dictated everyday life during quarantine. Senior Grace Tran explains, “People got bored during the pandemic and records are a cool way to listen to music.”

As time goes on, trends are introduced, and commonly re-introduced in later decades. Many young people have recently found a love for the vintage style.  This can be accredited to many factors, like celebrities’ styles, or general creativity in the way people choose to define themselves with their clothing. This vintage aesthetic is not just applicable to clothing, as many see it as a way of life. From room decoration to vinyl records to old media, vintage trends have infiltrated the lives and homes of many.  Junior Ryan Shipley explains, “I watch a lot of older TV shows, so I kind of enjoy vintage trends.” Similarly, Tran explains, “I follow some of the other vintage trends, mostly in fashion and aesthetics. I think that this can impact my choice to purchase vinyl [records].”

Purchasing vinyl records without owning a record player is something that is highly debated within the music industry. Some argue that vinyl records were created to be appreciated/ listened to, and others claim that the support for the physical music industry is important and beneficial. These purchases can be linked back to the vintage aesthetics referenced earlier. Furthermore, many view vinyl records as a form of decoration or art. Freshman Jacob Chalissery states, “I like the look of records a lot. You can hang them on your walls or use them as decorations if you do not own a record player.” Shipley further states, “I do not own a record player, but I still enjoy records, mostly for the look/feel of them.” Axios states that “coolness” is a factor which defines records from other forms of music.  They explain, “Even as tech changes the way we entertain ourselves — and makes certain forms of media obsolete — vinyl has the powerful asset of coolness to keep it alive.”

Record prices have been steadily rising. CNBC states, “While sales have gone up, prices have as well. According to data from eBay, a new vinyl record cost an average of $4.80 in 2007, and in 2017 it had gone up to $28.40, an increase of over 490%.” While some of this can be explained by inflation, much of the price jump is due to increased consumer demand. Sophomore Ryann McDonald says, “I think that the price of records is fine because they are good quality. However, I feel like the price has increased with time and more people purchasing them.” One way to avoid these steep price climbs is to purchase used records. Although there can be issues with the quality, they are perfectly fine for an average high schooler looking for classic records.

Many young vinyl record customers are interested in the latest music being produced on vinyl. New, upcoming artists often chose to produce music on vinyl to attract the attention of young vinyl lovers. These vinyls are extremely popular. The Vinyl Factory  states, “76,000 copies of Sour [by Olivia Rodrigo] were sold within a seven-day period following its delayed vinyl release, narrowly edging out Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, which racked up 73,000 LPs sold.” Chalissery further supports this, and explains, “I prefer newer artists records, just because I am more familiar with the actual music.”

Large corporations, like Amazon, have recently been competing with smaller, local record shops. Big corporations offer convenience and ease of accessibility, while smaller shops offer a more individualized touch. Chalissery explains, “I kind of tend to purchase records from bigger corporations like Amazon, just because it is easier and more convenient.” Mcdonald states, “I think that it is important to purchase from small businesses because I like to support the people.” The pandemic took a toll on all businesses, and it is important to remember this. Shipely further supports this, he states, “I prefer local stores because you can support small businesses and enjoy the music.”

Records are growing in popularity. While there are many causes for this, the general consensus is that records are making a comeback, whether you like it or not. Although this results in increased costs, it also results in more recognition and profit. Overall, the internet and boredom can be two particularly important factors in determining which industries will thrive or die.