Blog / New Vinyl: Contradiction or Connective, Cultural Craze?

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By Michael A.

VINYL MAKES A COMEBACK.  It’s one of those phrases that you never expect to hear.  Like, the Nasher Museum’s new exhibit opens to bad reviews, or the Duke football team wins a game (we still love and support them 100%–GO DUKE!).  However, recent reports suggest that the unimaginable resurgence of the vinyl record has taken shape–and is expected to generate greater sales still.

Though I am certain that we’re all pleasantly taken aback by the return of the record, the greatest surprise lies within the demographic to which vinyl seems to be most effectively making its appeal.  Truth be told, vinyl fanatics never stopped purchasing old vinyl LPs, etc.–so the vinyl industry never truly died (but it came reeaally close). These veteran patrons, however, aren’t the agents of cause in this enigmatic equation.  Kids are.

Recent sale reports reveal that youths, mostly under the age of 21, have developed a fondness for vinyl records and the necessary accouterments (turntables, retro headphones, IPOD jacks, USB adapters, etc.). The millennial generation has given the vinyl record new life.  I can’t imagine that anyone saw that coming.

So,  why is this happening?  Music industry officials and record store sales personnel alike consent that newer vinyl listeners relish the record for the same reasons as did listeners in the past: superior sound quality and passion for an authentic musical experience.  These reasons seem to beat the portability and convenience of contemporary music devices.  I can’t specifically state the reasons for the reappearance of the record, but I can identify this occurrence  as a connective cultural force with boundless potential.  In addition to potentially mending the nearly 2 decades during which vinyl suffered obscurity, the new appeal of vinyl could be the key to the revival of the music industry.  New interest in vinyl could result in, once again, actual record sales.  This would be a strong departure from the virtually non-existent sales that CDs have generated in recent years.  Record company executives may already be on to this as pop sensations, like Taylor Swift, have recently released vinyl versions of their new music.

It will be interesting to see the long term effects of this undying phenomenon.  In the meantime, check out “The Record: Contemporary Art & Vinyl” at the Nasher Museum of art before it leaves the day after February 6, 2011.

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