“Out with the old, in with the new” doesn’t always ring true in the music industry.
Though streaming services still generate the most revenue, vinyl sales are making a comeback, with nearly a 13-percent revenue increase in the first half of 2019, while CD revenue increased by less than 1 percent, according to a 2019 Recording Industry Association of America report. To Columbus-area record stores such as Elizabeth’s Records, Used Kids Records and Magnolia Thunderpussy, this comes as no surprise.
“There was a time back in the ’80s, when CDs came out, that we were throwing records in the dumpster to make room for CDs, and now we are doing the same thing. We are throwing CDs in the garbage to make room for records,” Charles Kubat, owner and manager of Magnolia Thunderpussy on High Street, said.
Greg Hall, owner of Used Kids Records on Summit Street, said CDs deteriorate over time in a way that vinyl does not.
“I think vinyl is going to stay until something radically different comes out. I can’t even envision what that would be,” he said.
Hall said CDs sell for a small fraction of what vinyl goes for, and the market for vinyl is far larger, making records a no-brainer.
But for many record store owners, there’s more to it than the market.
David Lewis, owner of Elizabeth’s Records on Indianola Avenue, said generations who have grown up with iPods and streaming services still have a desire to reconnect with the physical when it comes to music consumption.
“I think that there’s just some kind of yearning for a physical connection to the actual thing of having a record, something you can keep and play over again, something that looks cool in your room,” Lewis said. “There’s a whole subculture of collecting. That gene has kind of skipped a generation, and I think that this generation is rediscovering that.”
For Kubat, vinyls can create a social experience that other mediums cannot.
“The vinyl experience is different,” Kubat said. “You buy a record, you call your friends over and say, ‘I’ve got this new record.’ It’s an experience. I think that’s why people like it, as opposed to the isolation of the digital.”