In this digital age where you can download music almost instantly without even leaving your house, vinyl records are making a surprising comeback.
Over the past five or six years, vinyl sales have increased significantly. According to Nielsen SoundScan data, vinyl sales were up more than 36% in 2011, 89% higher than in 2007.
In 2007, Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner founded Record Store Day “as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally,” according to their website. Music fans across the country now celebrate Record Store Day on the third Saturday of every April, hoping to find special release, limited quantity LPs from their favorite artists.
Over two-thirds of vinyl records are sold at independent record stores. Despite vinyl’s recent success, many indie record stores have been forced to close their doors, unable to compete with digital music downloading. Only a handful of record stores remain open in South Jersey, 12 (and almost all) of which participated in Record Store Day this year.
This past Record Store Day, on April 21, I went to Tunes in Turnersville. I went in looking for a specific album, of which only two thousand copies were available nationwide, so of course I didn’t find it. I didn’t end up buying any RSD exclusives, but I didn’t leave empty handed; I bought a few used CDs and DVDs. I eventually ordered the album from a record store in New York that had some left over (and paid way too much for shipping).
There is a debate as to whether digital audio (CDs, mp3s) actually sounds better than analog (records). Naturally, the two formats sound very different, but many people actually prefer analog over digital, which has helped vinyl to regain some of its original popularity. Music lover Elainey Yerger, who I met at Tunes, said, “I buy vinyl because I like the sound. I love the grainy sound of records and I normally buy albums that were first released on vinyl. I just like the sound of certain albums on vinyl rather than the condensed digital form.” I, too, enjoy the way vinyl sounds, although I think it’s more of an acquired taste for those of us who grew up with CDs and other digital formats.
People buy vinyl for many reasons, aside from the way they sound. I personally buy vinyl records as collector’s items for the most part. Brandon Tower, who I also met at Tunes, buys them for their album artwork, and said, “I think they look dope on my wall.”
Below is a map of the South Jersey record stores that participate in Record Store Day and have extensive collections of vinyl for sale. I’m a personal fan of Grooveground in Collingswood because they have live music on top of selling awesome merchandise.
(Not on the map: ACRAT in Northfield, NJ. The store was shut down for selling synthetic marijuana.)