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The Great Return: Vinyl


In an artist’s merch store, the cool t-shirts, hoodies, and bags get the main attention while the cassettes, CDs, and vinyl records get treated like white noise – except for among audiophiles, who seek out the high-fidelity sound of vinyl records. 

Vinyl record sales have been increasing since 2006, with a 22% increase just in the first half of 2022. If streaming services have made it so easy to access music right away, what makes vinyl still relevant?

“I really love the way that vinyl is not only about the listening experience,” Joseph Thalackan, a Maine West 2022 graduate, said. “It’s about putting the record on your player, placing the needle just right, and watching the thing spin as music begins to play.” 

When placed from a psychological perspective, the vinyl revival also partly can be accredited to a concept known as psychological ownership. People want to be able to say, “this thing is mine,” and with a physical record, you’re able to own your favorite albums from your favorite artists. With psychological ownership, you’re allowing your possessions to become an extension of yourself, therefore having more value because of the emotional connection that fans have with it. 

Although vinyl records have become more popular, many are still skeptical of starting a collection. For starters, common vinyl records in the U.S. sell for $25 or more-– a sum of money that a lot of high schoolers aren’t eager to spend. Lesser known or underground music can be more difficult to find as well, which makes collecting vinyl more of a hobby than a medium for accessing all the music you may want to hear. “Even though they’re nice to have, I don’t own a vinyl because in this day and age they’re a bit impractical and not worth the money when I already have Spotify premium,” senior Sara Zogman said. 

Regardless, the appeal of the records seems to outweigh their drawbacks. A Westerner survey of 115 Maine West students revealed that 70% of students either own records or know someone who does. It’s often a misconception that vinyl records only contain older music from decades back. Tyler, the Creator, Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar—all of these artists produce vinyl with new releases, with a larger audience coming from younger generations. Obviously, these artists have a much larger fan base on Spotify and other streaming apps, but it’s important to note that these are also artists that have made top-selling vinyl records. 

Although they may not be accessible at your every convenience, the physical act of spinning a record makes it so much more real, which is a feeling that Spotify or Apple music could never replicate. “Vinyl is never going away,” Thalackan said. “The albums I have on vinyl are the ones I’m very passionate about. It gives those albums a special place when I have a physical copy.”

Karolina Glowa

October 26, 2022

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