Analyzing the Rise in Record Sales, ‘Record Store Day,’ and the Vinyl Experience

With Record Store Day bringing back its Black Friday roundup of special releases, it’s hard not to be grateful for the record resurrection this Thanksgiving. Vinyl LP sales have climbed over the last five years, with Nielsen SoundScan noting an 18% increase in domestic sales in 2012 and a 33.5% increase in the 2013 midyear report. But what’s driving this sudden resurgence?

As Album Sales Decline, Record Sales Continue to Rise

The reemergence of vinyl LPs on the industry radar has caused a considerable amount of buzz about the possible reasons for the trend. How does a dinosaur medium stay relevant? Is it Santa? Magic? For the diehards who never gave up on vinyl (even when sales hit an all-time low, pressing factories closed and awful dance mixes were all you could buy brand new), the answer is an obvious “Duh. Vinyl is just better. It’s always been and always will be.”

“Better” translates to different things: it can mean it sounds better; it’s more authentic; it has cool extras like inserts and photos. The reasons are endless. Some people even buy vinyl just to have hard copies of their favorite albums. They have records displayed like stylish keepsakes and never listen to them. For me, someone who admittedly just rediscovered its glory, vinyl is a lot like going to a concert.

Do you remember the last show you went to? It was so much more than music, right? It was visceral. Strangers were sweating on you, pushing you or even punching you. Or maybe you were twerking and singing along with thousands of other fans. Whether you saw NOFX or Justin Timberlake, you didn’t just watch the show. You felt it. You can’t feel music on your iPod or smartphone. You may not even have complete albums, cover art or song names in your digital library.

Conversely, vinyl can be felt. It’s a process. Your experience begins long before you hear a chord. You can handle vinyl, feel the grooves and marvel at its unique design and colors. Heck, just buying a record is an adventure, especially if it’s a rare press.

record store day black friday vinyl

The first time I saw a legit vinyl collector pick up a record and slip it out of its sleeve, I felt like I was watching an Iron Chef plate a masterpiece. The entire motion—the care and pride he took in revealing, examining and placing the record on the turntable—made me feel like I was about to be part of something special. And when the needle hit it (I forget what it was now because we listened to a lot of records that day), the sound was tangible. The music made the air thicker; it became a presence in the room, a phenomenon I swear doesn’t happen when I listen to digital copies.

So while there are many different reasons for why vinyl is making a powerful comeback in the digital age, including campaigns like Record Store Day, I can’t help but think about vinyl’s connection to live shows. Maybe I’m just a romantic, but why listen to music when you can experience it?

To have your own experience, visit Rukkus to find the best deals on concert tickets in one easy search, and don’t forget to score some sweet special releases at your local record store on November 29, 2013.

Article by Lauren Camacho

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