Back in the groove
Vinyl records are making a strong resurgence among young adults
By Steve PatrickPosted Jan 23, 2013
Flying in the face of modern technology, the vinyl record audio format is very much alive and flourishing in 2013. In the age of convenient MP3 or cloud music players, how is that vinyl has been making a steady comeback over the last several years? The popularity of vinyl is even clearer in Columbus as the area has about 13 record stores for music fans to frequent.
It seems the desire to actually own a quality product is a prime driver in vinyl’s resurgence. Lost Weekend Records employee Blake Pfister chalks vinyl’s superiority up to a matter of quality.
“Vinyl is more of a product. You know, you’ve got something in your hands. It’s more than just a digital CD,” he said. “It looks better and it sounds better. If you get a clean record on a good system, the sound quality is much more three dimensional than a CD.”
Trevor Imlay, a third-year in construction systems management agrees.
"I really like having the physical impression of the music,” Imlay raved. “It feels more natural and authentic. I haven't listened to any MP3s at home since I started listening to vinyl."
Imlay’s comments are a recurring theme amongst vinyl enthusiasts: namely that vinyl equals quality.
Jake “Laser” Derouen, who owns and operates punk/metal niche store Dreadful Sounds with Kate Sykes, said he thinks vinyl listeners have a different level of commitment to their music experience.
“People who are really into music want vinyl,” Derouen said. “If they can’t get the vinyl, then they’ll settle for something else.”
Similarly, Spoonful Records owner Brett Ruland said he thinks “vinyl listeners take the listening experience a step further than other music fans.”
One would think that the quantity of record shops in town might over saturate the market, but Ruland disagrees.
“Columbus is such a diverse city and I feel like there are scenes for just about every style of music.” Ruland said. “So record stores that specialize in different things can flourish if the owners sell records that are unique to their customer base.”
When asked if being a specialty store could hinder business, Sykes explained, “Not for us. We have a lot of support. We heard a lot when we opened that ‘Columbus needed this’, ‘we’re so happy you’re here’, ‘we’ve wanted this for a long time’, so if we’re going to be one of 13 shops it’s better to be the one that specializes in very specific things.”
Sykes said vinyl is thriving because it “is the only sector of the music industry with any growth right now and I think people are taking advantage of that, I think, and Columbus is pretty hospitable in our area specifically.”
Ruland also attributes the explosion of vinyl titles to newer acts wanting to follow in the footsteps of their musical predecessors.
“I think younger bands want to be on vinyl because their heroes are all on vinyl and it is nice to be on the same format as people you admire,” Ruland said.
For quite some time, record collecting was very much an underground enterprise, but that has changed in recent years.
“Now I think it’s more about the artifact…you know, holding something bigger,” said Dan Dow of longtime campus institution Used Kids Records. “It’s more engaging, you know, getting the record player having to get up off your butt to turn it over. I see a lot of families in here…dads bringing their kids in, so it’s not just a geek collector thing like it used to be.”
Record Store Day, a biannual event that encourages the public to patronize their local independent record shops, has certainly also contributed to the vinyl resurgence.
“People will flock to the stores to just get the certain records that come out. On Record Store Day in here, you can’t even walk through the store. It’s like a crowded bar or something,” Pfister said.
Ruland said he believes “Record Store Day definitely helps to get people excited about vinyl and just sort of reminds people once or twice a year about the spirit of independent record stores.”
Whatever the reasons, it is clear that more music fans everywhere, especially on the Ohio State campus, are dropping the needle to listen to their favorite bands. There is something reassuring about the thought that there is still a respect for a tangible, quality product in this throwaway, instant-gratification society in which we all live. The vinyl record format may be well over one hundred years old, but it clearly is not going anywhere without a fight. Stick that in your iPod and smoke it.