By Fiona Cheung
Vinyl seems to have been making a comeback amongst teens lately, with sales rising drastically over that past few years. Vinyl sales increased by 53% in 2015, the highest since 1991. Old bulky turntables with scratchy sounds and vinyls with relatively short shelf lives have piqued the interests of young people, and some of the older generation can’t understand why. Why would millennials want to use expensive, outdated technology with low quality sounds, when you could download music on iTunes or Spotify for much cheaper, with 10x the sound quality?
When asked about where the trend came about, most people believed it is part of a similar revival in fashion. “You know how a lot of people are dressing like nineties and eighties?” says d.tech junior, Amaya Santana, “I think it kind of ties into that aesthetic.” Freshman, Ellie Velez, concurs: “I think everything’s just circling back.”
Many students admit they took part in the trend, because of the vintage visual appeal. “I like the aesthetic look of it and how it sounds a little different, like older, when you play records,” says Santana. However, some teens also enjoy the tangible aspect of it as well, so different from the digital platforms they more typically use. “I like record players because of aesthetic, plus, it’s very low-tech so everything’s manual, so I like the idea of not having to use technology.” says d.tech junior Leslie Mezquita. d.tech junior, Sophia Pena, was inspired get one because “I thought they were pretty, and I like physical copies of vinyls and music I enjoy.” Some students have quite a few records already. “I don’t have enough to call it a collection, but I have around 80,” says Mezquita.
But not all teens who own a record player are trying to follow a trend. Some believe that since everyone is getting one just to be “trendy,” people are losing a real appreciation for record players. “Everyone tried to jump on the trend because they thought it was a cool sound.” says d.tech junior Fia Jones. “They’re overrated for some people because some of them just use it,” says Mezquita, “but they don’t understand it.”
From an adult’s perspective, it’s hard to understand the sudden comeback among younger people, since they grew up with them, and didn’t see them as particularly unique. “I’ve been listening to record players my whole life, so I’m not sure,” says an employee from 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in San Francisco, who gave his name as “Ernest.” Mike McCarty from The Record Man in Redwood City, says “I have no idea why it’s happening. You know our generation, we pretty much grew up with records; it was all there was.” However, they had a few guesses. “It’s the different way it’s played back; it’s the warmth, doesn’t have that cold sound of a digital CD,” says Craig Cooper from Amoeba Music in San Francisco, while Ernest thought it might be that “most people see the appeal in the disc spinning.”
People nowadays seem to particularly enjoy classic rock on vinyl. According to McCarty, “These days what seems to be selling is classic rock, it seems to be the classics like Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. The classic rock seems to be what’s selling more than anything else. After that, jazz is still popular, like classic Jazz, and then soul seem to be the main genres that people are interested in.” And of course, people never seem to lose interest in the current music of the times. When asked what categories of music people are leaning towards, he added, “Some of the new vinyl, like the present day new music,” in addition to classic rock. “We’re just starting to get back into selling new vinyls.”
Record stores have been catching onto the fad, and over 700 are hosting annual “Record Store Day” events, which have been growing since the event got its start in 2007. New releases and exclusive special editions of vinyls are promoted, and stores host giveaways, raffles, and other things to appeal to their audiences, promoting vinyl’s popularity. But McCarty doesn’t believe the vinyl trend will last. “I think a lot of it now is just a fad, people checking it out seeing what it’s all about. People move on to other things, and a few people will stay with records.” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Here are some nearby records stores to check out:
151 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403
The Record Man
1322 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063
1-2-3-4 Go! Records
1038 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Want to know what the hype with record players is all about? Order a cheap one here!