2014 will go down as the year of the resurgence of the vinyl record and as the owner of record stores I am very happy. If vinyl hadn’t made its comeback there would definitely be fewer record stores. In fact, maybe there are too many records; records in coffee shops, in clothing stores, in lifestyle shops, and even at Target and Best Buy. Records are all over advertising and in movies. Records, Records, Records!! (Please don’t call them vinyls.)
So, will 2015 mark the end of CD and DVD? I doubt it and I hope not.
In 1995, people were dumping records. Remember, they were too bulky, too much trouble to care for, and nobody read liner notes or noticed cover art anymore. And we were buying ‘em …. thousands of ‘em. Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, we bought everything and everyone thought we were nuts. Who would ever buy vinyl again? Nobody even had a turntable so what was the point.
It was a golden time for the vinyl shopper. You could find pristine copies of 70s and 80s analog recordings for a few bucks. If you weren’t so picky about condition they could be had for nickels and dimes. Compact discs were too expensive and records were a bargain.
Our warehouse filled up with pallets of boxes of records. We had hundreds of copies of Fleetwood Mac / Rumours and Hall & Oates / H2O and Frampton Comes Alive and Supertramp / Breakfast In America and …. on and on.
For twenty years, we couldn’t give them away until 2014 and now all of our Fleetwood Mac / Rumours LPs are gone and sold and Supertramp and Hall & Oates. (We still have lots of Frampton).
And the CDs and DVDs are piling up; thousands and thousands of them. And they are priced to sell. New CDs of older catalog titles can be had for $5.00. Used CDs are selling for a few bucks. We recently starting selling Green-Tag CDs and DVDs for 50 cents.
Here’s why you should start buying compact discs and I know it’s sacrilegious to say it:
- They are bargains! Tom Waits vinyl, if you can find it, is expensive. The CDs are a fraction of the price and we have overstock. You can find a used copy of a CD for less than the cost of a digital download.
- A CD with slight scratches (we call them skufs) will play like a new copy. It takes a lot of abuse to affect playback of a CD, but a record with slight scratches will have noticeable background noise. I guess that’s part of the charm.
- Compact discs sound better than MP3 files. I know we’ve been programmed to believe that all digital is equally bad, but it’s simply not true. If you’re listening to an MP3 through a mediocre ear bud you are not hearing all the music… Period!
4. A vinyl re-issue copy of a digitally mastered record does not necessarily sound better than a CD. This would be true if you have an expensive turntable, a great amp and fantastic speakers. If you’re playing those expensive records on a cheap USB platter through a crappy wireless speaker system … probably not. If you want the vinyl, pay more for a very good copy of an original analog recording.
- They are bargains! History doesn’t always repeat itself (but I do) --- just look at the 8-Track and cassette tape --- but 8-tracks and cassettes are sonically inferior to CDs and vinyl. I have CDs in my collection that I bought 30 years ago and the sound quality has not diminished.
- Corporate spies: Do you really want a corporation/cloud spying on your every purchase? Analyzing you, using you? And your laptop crashes, you haven't done a backup, and so long music collection. Have fun re-installing everything.
In closing, I am ecstatic that people are buying vinyl again. I love records. When I started working in a record store in 1978(!) it was all records. I sold my first record collection to buy a house and I will never find some of those records again, but I have replaced some of them with CDs and that’s good enough.
Scott Kuzma, Everyday Music curmudgeon