By: Skyler Ross
(SETON HILL, Pa.) – “LP sales jumped by more than 50 percent in 2021, surpassing both digital and CD album sales,” said Felix Richter, a data analyst who has been watching the “vinyl comeback” since its start in 2006. Richter says that in the United States last year Lp sales “made up a sizable 38 percent of all album sales.”
Over the past few years, vinyl has been making a comeback as no other format has in the past. Though many people say that vinyl is dead, like Important Records’ famous Twitter post which read “Vinyl is Dead.” There have always been people still collecting. So what about vinyl that has withstood the test of time and why do people keep going back to it?
I personally have been collecting vinyl since 2015 and have over 3,000 albums. For just one dollar I bought an Elvis Christmas album at a Goodwill which was the start of my collection. When I got it I didn’t even own a record player, yet something about holding the record and thinking about the history just made me want to start collecting.
Ever since that day I have been collecting and putting all my money into my collection. You can ask any record collector and they will remember their first record. There is a fondness for looking back on buying that first one.
One of my favorite things about collecting vinyl is going record shopping. It’s not just because you get to go buy more albums to add to your collection. Going record shopping is an experience, you get to talk to people who share a passion for music and get to share suggestions, talk about recent artists you’ve found, and just get to talk with people about what you love.
“Music creates a connection between people and significant times in our lives,” said Casper. “I believe being able to connect with customers and have vinyl records that are nostalgic not only to them but also to the employees is a wonderful feeling.”
“Sometimes we need a little music to remind us of the best times of our lives. Vinyl will always be an important part of many lives and we are proud to be helping music lovers all over Pennsylvania and the country,” said Casper.
Vinyl acts as a relaxer for many people. I personally love placing a record on the turntable and just letting the music play and just sitting back and just relaxing. Music no matter what format has this effect on people.
Whenever you’re stressed, studies have shown that music can be a relaxer. Vinyl goes a step further because there is a sense of intimacy with the music, you get to hold it and look at the music that you own.
“Starting out I wasn’t a very big collector but watching it grow and having a growing love for music has amassed into quite a collection,” said Michael Casper, the owner of CD Warehouse Greensburg and Ghastly Enterprises. Casper says “I wasn’t always a music lover but I have grown to love it throughout recent years.”
Before I started collecting vinyl I collected Cds. I have always needed to have a physical copy of the music I own. In my own experience, collecting vinyl is more eventful than collecting Cds. There is a hunt that’s involved and it’s the thrill of that hunt and finally finding an album you have been searching for, for years makes it so fun.
“Vinyl has outsold CDs for the first time in 30 years in 2019 and has grown consistently since then,” said Casper. “The demographic shopping there in 2008 was 25-50, now there are 12-year-olds that are looking for the new Taylor Swift vinyl.”
“I started working at CD Warehouse in 2008 when I was 16 years old,” Casper said. Casper then worked his way up before leaving for a short period of time.
He later returned and worked as manager for 3 years before buying the store. In 2018 Casper expanded CD Warehouses into the back room and opened up the Retro Room. “The Retro Room expanded the vinyl selection we offer the customers.”
“When I started at CD Warehouse in 2008 we had just started carrying vinyl records with about 300 records, now CD Warehouse has over 3,000 records in stock at any time,” said Casper.
In 2020 CD Warehouse started to participate in Record Store Day. Record Store Day is an annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store “Record Store Day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world,” said Casper. Nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally.
For me, Record Store Day, or RSD as people usually call it is like a holiday. People line up early in the morning to try and get the records they want. What I love about it though is that the whole day is about the community. Everyone is so friendly and is able to talk about the one common passion that is bringing everyone together in the first place.
“With the vinyl comeback coming with more and more participants, it is crucial for me to have people on my team that are able to provide information to those who are getting into vinyl, and those who have been doing it for years,” said Casper.
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” said Michael Przwarty who is the General Manager at CD Warehouse.
I grew up in a family where music was very important, both my parents collected vinyl,” said Przwarty.
Przwarty says his parents taught him at an early age how to care for vinyl, what the difference was between 33s and 45s, and how to find a song on the record. “Little did I know these memories and skills would come in handy.”
For those who don’t know, a 33⅓ rpm (revolutions per minute) record are records that need to be played specifically at that speed for the music to be played; a 45 rpm needs to be played at a faster speed for the music to be heard.
“Vinyl has always been special to me, something about seeing that needle hit the record, hearing the pops, and having to adjust the pitch control was a way for me to forget about everyday stress,” said Przwarty.
Przwarty says “seeing vinyl come back today is almost a dream come true.” His dad always said it would come back and be better than ever. Technology has allowed vinyl to sound better with the new remasterings, thicker vinyl at 180g makes them more warp-resistant.
Because of the resurgence in vinyl to the masses, musicians are seeing the money in vinyl and are starting to release and even re-release albums on vinyl which for a collector like myself is making it easier and cheaper to get the albums we are looking for.
A lot of albums released in the 1980s and up until the late 2000s are out of print or have never been released. Out of print means that there was a time when the album was being pressed and distributed but at a certain point the record company cut productions making the ones that are out there more rare and collectible.
“Growing up in a time when vinyl was supposed to be dead and seeing where it is today has been a rewarding experience,” said Przwarty The last few years Przwarty has been able to start his own collection and add to his parent’s collection that was given to him. “I also get to make memories and teach my kids all about vinyl”
“For a lot of new vinyl collectors it can be exciting to learn all the new terminology and learn about the history of vinyl and how it’s constantly innovating with modern technology,” Przwarty said.
Not all of the collectors out there are new to collecting, there are a lot of seasoned veterans who never stopped collecting or used their previous knowledge to get back into it.
“I started with records and had 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, reel to reel, I even had mini discs,” said Aaron Leffler, a local record player. Leffler has been collecting since he was five years old. Leffler said it was in middle school where he started noticing he was acquiring a collection.
“An issue was you couldn’t get vinyl for a period of time you couldn’t get it they quit making it, so what was the point?” Leffler said. During this period of time, Leffler mostly collected CDs but always missed the interaction with vinyl.
“All of a sudden we have this vinyl resurgence within the last 10-15 years where you can get the high-quality stuff from shops,” said Leffler. “I love collecting vinyl because it comes with a lot of memories. It just always seemed the most realest form to me.”
When you get a record and put it on the turntable the first thing you do is grab the sleeve and read it,” said Leffler. “I like this because you don’t get this anywhere else. When you stream the music you don’t get all the details and for CDs, the booklets are so small,” Leffler said. “Good luck reading it if you’re over 30 years old.”
There are many reasons why people collect vinyl and it is different for every person. I don’t think I will ever stop collecting vinyl. I do think there will be another time when the popularity of vinyl will die out and it won’t be as big as it is now. But I think there will always be people who collect vinyl because they truly enjoy doing it.
Photo provided by Skyler Ross