Maybe it is time everyone, especially the media, to move beyond nostalgia.
Sure, we get it. The vinyl record boom has caught the attention of plenty of people in the media, music, and Hollywood. One does not have to look very hard to find an article (we have written a few ourselves) that try and deliver a warm and fuzzy feeling about the vinyl comeback reminding us just how much everyone missed the experience of shopping in a record store.
The latest film, “All Things Must Pass,” takes a similar approach and focuses on the flagship mega-chain, Tower Records. We are not arguing against the premise of the films. They are excellent. We love them, recommend them, and we think they serve a purpose to remind everyone just how much they have lost in the digital age.
However it is time to move on.
It is time that we focus on the future. Without a doubt, vinyl records have survived possible extinction, and are not only increasing, but thriving. Take a look at the sales figures so far this year, and it is clear that the supposed bubble is nowhere near popping. Rather than sit back and predict its downfall, it is time we start ensuring its continued success. How do we do this?
First, face the reality that vinyl is not going anywhere. Stop marketing it as a piece of nostalgia and sell it on the fact that it remains the best way to experience music. With the exception of portability, vinyl supersedes every other recorded music format. If you genuinely care about hearing the best reproduction of music, vinyl is the only way.
Stop attributing it to the hipster or trend setting class. This is the most bullshit argument that has ever come from the vinyl naysayers. Did the hipster trend help bring back vinyl? Sure. However the hip kids were not operating the record presses and cutting masters in the early days of digital. While the younger generations were illegally downloading, the longtime enthusiasts were holding on for dear life in order to ensure the survival of their beloved format. The smaller record plants stripped down, but kept pressing. The independent labels, who were being muscled out of the digital download empire, kept ordering records, and getting them onto the shelves of the record stores which were closing at a rapid pace. The clerks of the stores did their best to keep the lights on while their aisles ran empty. Hardcore audiophiles and collectors raided the newly stocked used bins, which became a lifeline to the stores. These are the people that saved vinyl.
Educate. Educate. Educate. We can’t say it enough. Generation X was the last to regularly purchase music from a record store. The vast majority of the other two have never stepped foot in a store. Today’s high schoolers were infants when Napster came online. It is the responsibility of everyone who cares about physical music to share their knowledge and love with as many as possible. Get your ass in a store outside of record store day. Teach new collectors how to care for their records and equipment.
Start imagining a future where vinyl is the only surviving physical music format. We realize those are fighting words for some of the readers of our website. However the portability benefits of CD’s are quickly becoming gratuitous as the streaming market grows more affordable, accessible, and customizable. The days of the CD are numbered. Rather than fearing or fighting this, it is time we understand that there is a coexistence that is beneficial to both the consumer and producer. Streaming dominates the portable market, however vinyl is the best way to actually experience the music. “Vinyl in the bedroom, baby.” – Jack White.
Rather than asking, “When will the vinyl bubble pop”? Maybe we should be asking, “Just how big will it become?” The answer is endless. With digital robbing so much love, appreciation, attention, and enjoyment from music, vinyl is the only way to save it.
It is going to take all of us. Vinyl enthusiast, manufacturers, labels, and independent record stores. Let’s work together and start looking positively toward the future. To those who continue to doubt? You can either get on board or shut the hell up and get out of the way.
We welcome your feedback. Email your thoughts and comments here.