Teens turn to vinyl in a digital age

For years, senior Iris Shanks contemplated the meaning of music. Music was supposed to warm your heart and open up your mind to the world’s possibilities. But with the chilly lifelessness of most downloaded digital music, how could one truly experience the sensations of music?
But then everything changed the day Shanks received her first vinyl.
With the introduction of vinyl in her life, Shanks felt a flood of warmth run into her heart. Gone was the bland sterileness of digital now that the vinyl’s warm crackle had entered her life. Vinyl not only changed the way Shanks purchased music, it changed the way she experienced it.
“The age of digital music is upon us,” Shanks said. “But nothing compares to the experience a classic vinyl gives.”
Although the music industry has seen dramatic changes in the past couple decades with new technologies, there has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of vinyl.
From vinyl to cassettes to compact discs to digital music, the way the consumer listens to music has been evolving.
MP3s and Internet downloading of music through programs like iTunes and Rhapsody have all but killed the CD industry – yet vinyl ceases to go away.
Vinyl sales in the US topped 3.9 million in 2011, a 39.3 percent gain over 2010, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
“Vinyl offers its listeners an experience that digital download just can’t come to pair with,” senior John Sockolov said.
The advantages to owning vinyl records are numerous. For many vinyl-preferring audiophiles, vinyl presents the listener with a physical record that is much more personal than a digital download.
“When you buy vinyl you feel like you are part of the music and it feels like the music is truly yours,” senior Phil Byrd-Smith said.
The re-emergence of vinyl can also be attributed to the emphasis it puts on the entire album rather than single-style tracks. For many listeners, like senior Michael Woodbury, this helps deliver the album’s complete idea much more clearly.
“You get the absolute message of the album as it was intended,” senior Michael Woodbury said. “No shuffle and no skipping tracks.”
Many collectors enjoy creating their own personal physical music libraries rather than having it all stored on a computer hard drive.
“The little extra effort in having and playing a record makes it more meaningful,” Byrd-Smith said.
Vinyl also offers a higher fidelity, or sound quality, than a compact disc.
Vinyl records are in an analog format and are uncompressed recordings, as opposed to their digital counterparts. CDs must be converted into digital information and sampled at a limited rate. “The pops and scratches make it feel like it’s unique and truly mine.” Shanks said.
Buying used vinyl is much cheaper than buying CDs in a store or music off of iTunes. Most CDs on iTunes or at a record store start at ten dollars, whereas a vinyl costs three to five dollars used.
“Music stores are starting to offer great records at a reasonable prices – most are no more than five dollars!” Woodbury said.
The resurgence of vinyl records has also connected the current generation with past generations. Youth are discovering their parents vinyl collections, opening the divide between generations.
“My dad and I spin records all day,” senior Hunter Akins said. “I have a vinyl-MP3 converter so we can listen to old Leadbelly and Johnny Lee Hooker albums while we play pool.”
With the recent rebirth of vinyl, record stores like Dimple have opened up a separate store solely dedicated to vinyl where they sell nothing but records.
“They offer a great collection of new and used vinyl,” Woodbury said.
Vinyl is an excellent alternative to buying CDs or digital music. The numerous benefits that vinyl offers makes it so appealing to the consumer, which justifies its continuous success.
“With vinyl, I have not only listened to music, I have truly experienced it,” said Shanks. “Real music lovers listen to vinyl.”