And Why I’m Making The Switch
“Look at this”, my friend says, caressing his latest vinyl purchase, making me swoon. Something he did several times last year. It’s the start of another year and for most of 2014 I was gagging to go vinyl. There will be derision and snide comments made about this, but the truth is that there is more to my decision than the fact that it’s deemed to be “cool” again.
I’m not concerned with Urban Outfitters and that movement either, though their stock of vinyl players did spark off my interest. The reasons for my decision to go for vinyl from now on were manifold – the first of which is that my CD tray on my laptop hasn’t worked for well over two years now, meaning I have to find alternative ways of getting physical purchases onto my laptop for bumping from device to device (an external optical drive was obviously too far fetched for me).
Buying CDs as soon as I got my first job at sixteen means I have a lot of CDs – it was the only option for me at that point. Now, getting a full album of tracks is as easy as clicking a button online, but the music itself isn’t the only thing I enjoy. I like to hold an album in my hand, look at the artwork (often impressive enough in its own right), read the sleeve notes – I truly invest my time in a purchase.
Admittedly I bought CDs willy-nilly all those years ago and I won’t be doing that with vinyl. I buy far less music these days which makes me feel like it’s worth that extra £5 or £10 to get a real big version of the album I really want that month; and all on a format which I can sit and indulge in listening to on a quality vinyl player. With the ability to transfer the vinyl into an MP3 format via the player I won’t have to worry about spending hundreds of pounds on a new laptop now either. I’ve also been handed down a few classics by my dad too, which helps.
Additionally, the recent hike in vinyl sales has made my teenage self yearn to join in, not because I want to be part of the hip crowd, but because I want to have my say in how a release charts. AM by Arctic Monkeys did well on vinyl in 2014 and when you take a look at the best selling vinyl albums in comparison to the regular Top 40 chart you can see startling differences. There are some great albums in the vinyl chart which you won’t see near the regular charts – a crossover exists but it’s marred by other forces. I thought the power to have your say on the charts had been lost to the Directioners and the Beliebers.
Vinyl Sales Figures
2004 – 453,254
2010 – 234,471
2014 – 1,000,000 +
I think there are now two ways in which you can view music sales: the first is through the normal charts, easily influenced by celebrity driven releases, the second is through the vinyl charts, where a greater appreciation for the craft and art of music exists. I’m not saying that my musical taste is the right one – but I think people enjoy music in very different ways now, with many people happy to ride a train of forceful marketing and, quite probably, some sort of sexual exploitation. The appreciation of music itself was lost for a while in the last decade, but I hope that vinyl will allow the real gems to shine through.
A lot of people are happy to keep up with the technology and go with that flow, but I’ll always buy into the physical release instead – and vinyl is the perfect way to do this for me from now on. I have a friend who has long been a lover of vinyl, going so far as to work as a volunteer in a vinyl store, which has also helped set this inevitable change into (belated) motion.