North Texas Daily

Positive spin: vinyl sales surge for a new generation

Positive spin: vinyl sales surge for a new generation

Positive spin: vinyl sales surge for a new generation
February 03
23:38 2014

Nicholas Friedman // Staff Writer

It has been almost 25 years since vinyl records left the mainstream music market because of new technologies. In the late ‘80s, compact discs were already taking the lead over vinyl records, according to an article by the Seattle Times.

In a recent trend, though, numerous variables have contributed to a return of the older technology including an affinity for physical media, sound quality and nostalgia. With these attributes, vinyl has steadily risen to be a formidable foe against other forms of media.

Don’t call it a comeback

“I believe that the new generation never had the feeling of collecting music,” said Mark Burke, owner of Mad World Records in downtown Denton. “Kids are getting record players for Christmas every year and they’re discovering the satisfaction in physical media.”

Burke has been collecting records since he was 18 years old, and now at age 40 he enjoys passing the love he has for vinyl to new generations of listeners.

“Eleven years ago we opened a store in Carollton, and when we closed in 2011 we decided to come to Denton,” Burke said. “I saw this vacuum and I didn’t want record stores to go away.”

Burke said his store sees a sales increase every January as people are looking to build a library for their new players.

According to a report from Nielsen SoundScan, 2013 saw total vinyl album sales reach more than six million units, a growth of 32 percent. From 2002 to 2012, the product sale increased by 250 percent.

This is a huge contrast to CD sales, which declined 14.5 percent in 2013. CDs still make up for about 57 percent of album sales, but have steadily declined in recent years.

“I’m sure the majority of folks got into [records] the same way I did, by finding their parents’ collection,” RTVF senior Wesley Kirk said.

Quality and nostalgia

“When I grew up we bought tapes because record players weren’t always available,” Burke said. “If you have the right record player, the music just sounds better and I think that draws a lot of people toward vinyl.”

According to a report from How Stuff Works, digital recordings do not capture the complete sound wave of the music that they are playing back. In comparison, records use grooves that mimic the original waveform of the recording, leading to a crisper sound much closer to what musicians produce in the studio.

“We bought our first record player a few months ago just so the kids would know what it was and that there is more than just downloading singles,” said Mad World Records customer Jeff Langlitz, as he showed his daughter Sage the records in the shop. “We were amazed at the quality of sound. There really is a difference.”

Vinyl this year, and in the future

The top selling vinyl records of 2013 were UK-based Arctic Monkeys’ “AM,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” and David Bowie’s “The Next Day.”

Other than Daft Punk, which carried a $40 price tag, most records are about $20, and many see the higher retail prices as a push to attract an expensive, niche market that will fizzle out if the trend continues.

“If labels continue to raise record prices then we will see less and less people willing to buy them,” Burke said. “The Flaming Lips released a $40 record this year that was not at the standard of other, less-expensive releases, lacking even a download code for the album.”

Burke said that if this trend continues, fans would see records fall back into obscurity, with only punk rock and indie artists left to keep the medium alive.

UNT graduate and owner of about 1,000 vinyl records, Victor Monterroso said as long as labels follow the lead of those who promote the music and the content over popularity and price, records will be here to stay.

Whether or not record sales continue to climb in the foreseeable future or fall back into the realm of obscurity, the medium will exist for those looking for a complete and incomparable listening experience.

“At the very least vinyl has proven to be persistent,” Monterroso said. “It’s survived cassettes and CDs, MP3s and iTunes, and continues to thrive in the streaming age.”

Feature photo: Three-year-old Sage Langlitz discovers the sounds of vinyl on a Sunday afternoon at Mad World Records located on Denton’s square. Sage, like most children, was introduced to vinyl by her parents. Photo by Kristen Watson / Staff Photographer 

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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