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For the love of vinyl

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By Pat Prince

According to a mid-year report from the Recording Industry Association of America, the revenue from vinyl records has grown by almost 13 percent in the first six months of 2019. Looking at a timeline of growth from the last 10 years, the numbers are even more impressive.

The preference for vinyl is nothing new to the longtime music collector. The recording industry turned its back on the vinyl format in the 1990s, but it didn’t quell the passion of collectors — many of whom continued buying, selling and swapping used vinyl by classic artists.

Ironically, the digital age has produced new converts. Tired of the ghost-in-the-machine feel of digital downloads, a younger generation of music fans began to seek out an alternative to their listening experience. Vinyl presented a better way to bond with music. What you heard was no longer an abstract; it was real, tangible property that came packaged with artwork, gatefolds and even posters. It was an emotional touchstone that became easier to perceive and recognize. More importantly, it came with valuable information about the music.

In the digital world, it’s easy to download the entire back catalog of a band without even knowing the singer or the musicians involved; not to mention how and where the music was recorded. To the music lover, that in itself is downright negligent.

And then there’s the sound. There are audiophiles who will make the claim that there are now digital files with a superior sound, but these files still lack the analog warmth of vinyl. If a vinyl record remains in good condition, vinyl produces a beefier, stronger, full-of-life sound.

Antique Trader’s sister publication Goldmine, the music collector’s magazine, has been preaching the strength of the vinyl format since 1974. The magazine has tracked the value of vinyl records and created the standard for grading the condition of a record album. Decades of Goldmine reader surveys show the overwhelming passion for vinyl records is a constant. Music collectors may still own their share of memorabilia and/or other music formats like CDs, cassettes, reel-to-reel and even 8-track tapes but vinyl records remain the collector’s top choice when it comes to both investment and preference.

The demand for vinyl records doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. It’s a fact that the popularity of vinyl is more than a fad. It’s a lifestyle.

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