The second wave of vinyl record popularity

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A black vinyl record with a red centre spins on a turntable. Pixabay

Spin while you win

A little bit of music can help get you through classes. My record player sits in the corner of my room, humming all day until I go to flip it once it finishes its side. This background noise helps me and many others focus on my daily tasks. Rather than keeping the television on, I switch on my turntable and enjoy the music.

The vinyl record industry is booming once again. I, for one, am very excited to see such a unique medium of music resurge into the market once again. Vinyl records sound quality makes it an attractive music medium. Unlike CDs and music sharing apps, none of the audio data is lost when pressing records. The raw, original sound produced keeps listeners opting for turntables.

Listening to vinyl requires patience. You need to get up and flip your record every twenty minutes or so and make sure you catch the needle when it sticks so it does not skip.  However, patience is an aspect that makes vinyl so unique. Vinyl is the easiest way to find new fun tunes that you otherwise may have skipped over. Record players do not have an easy way to cut through songs by pressing a button, like CDs or music sharing apps. Instead, you have to listen to the entire album. While many may view this as a burden, this is one of the perks of vinyl.

Another stunning aspect of vinyl is all the graphics and designs that go into the album cover art. While all albums, virtual or physical, incorporate cover art, vinyl is unique because the front, back, and inside of the album often have special and unique, never-before-seen art. Records are not just pleasing to the ears, but also the eyes. The inside of albums usually has unreleased creative content from the artist, including information and artwork unique to the album. Sometimes they even include special promotions with coupons or posters for fans. While minimalist artwork is effective in graphic artwork, I favor an album that is an explosion of expression reflecting the artist.

The resurgence of popularity in vinyl has risen because it fills the consumer’s need to have a physical item. Digital music can be tampered with or lost if you have complications with passwords. Vinyl is a famous collector’s item that many love to show off to their friends and enjoy in their spare time. The vinyl market also has a heavy emphasis on used records. Many get traded and donated for other listeners to enjoy a swanky new tune. Simultaneously, there is a huge number of records from the most popular era of vinyl. Many more modern artists are now putting out special edition records for vinyl fanatics to enjoy.

While music sharing apps offer students and families deals, vinyl records also have their special days when limited edition albums come out. In 2008, Record Store Day came twice a year for vinyl fanatics on Black Friday and a Saturday in April, releasing artists’ newest albums and remastered fan-favorite albums. Lots of record stores are independently carrying a variety of used and brand-new records. Record Store Day brings together armies of music-lovers to support these record stores.

Not only do limited edition albums attract fans, but freshly pressed coloured vinyl is a unique asset to a collection. Vinyl is offered in many colours, including a new unique marbled pattern. Sleek black vinyl records are visually pleasing all on their own, but coloured vinyl is visually stunning. More often than not, black was the static colour of viny during the first wave of vinyl popularity. Coloured vinyl is more common now but is still rare and can add value to one’s collection.

While vinyl has its perks, it certainly is susceptible to damage. Vinyl is highly fragile, so be gentle! Always be careful handling vinyl. Scratches can occur regularly, which can cause skips on your record or completely get stuck. Warping of vinyl occurs when the room’s temperature is too warm, and the vinyl melts out of shape, destroying your record. Always keep your vinyl away from hot or humid areas. Always handle your vinyl around the edges, avoiding the grooves. The oil from your fingers can cause dirt and dust to fuse into the records. It’s important to know that often the paper sleeves that the records come in can cause scratching, but it is better than the cardboard album case. Many records come in a plastic casing that protects the album itself. However, it is often the best for storing your record. When you need to clean your record, either use a carbon fiber brush to reduce static that attracts dust or clean with distilled water and gently wipe with a microfibre cloth. As for storing your records, it can be tough to find a safe spot for them to live without risking damage. Thankfully, records fit perfectly into milk crates, and many people just set their record players right on top of them. Remember to occasionally clean your turntable when you do your records and change the needle from time to time.

Walking into a vinyl store is like going on an Easter egg hunt. You have to take your time to make sure you do not miss anything good. Often, you may look through twenty racks to find two albums that tickle your fancy. While the search can be exhausting at times, you may find a few gems to take home with you. When I first started to collect, one of the most incredible tips I learned was when you go into the store, pick the album with the most intriguing cover art and buy it. Furthermore, explore different genres such as jazz or instrumental soundtracks.

Vinyl shopping is the best way to discover new music. Not only is the sound quality outstanding, but it is also a fantastic experience just opening the packaging. My records spin all day, so while I am working to the time, I am relaxing too.

Gillian Massie

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