Vinyl makes a comeback

Vinyl enthusiasts Daniel Everett, Johnny Wright and John Wright browse through shelves of records at Randy’s Records, located at 157 E. 900 South. “I’ve been collecting records since high school, and it brings back memories whenever I listen to them,” said John Wright, a 59-year-old who said he’s a regular shopper at Randy’s Records. Photo by Craig Knight.

Vinyl enthusiasts Daniel Everett, Johnny Wright and John Wright browse through shelves of records at Randy’s Records, located at 157 E. 900 South. “I’ve been collecting records since high school, and it brings back memories whenever I listen to them,” said John Wright, a 59-year-old who said he’s a regular shopper at Randy’s Records. Photo by Craig Knight.

Despite the ease and accessibility of listening to music digitally, some people still prefer the inconvenience of listening to their music on vinyl records.  

Across the United States, there were 9.2 million vinyl records sold in 2014—a number that jumped to 11.9 million in 2015, according to the Nielsen yearly music report. That’s a 29.8 percent increase in total vinyl records sold from 2014 to 2015.

“More people are getting record players,” said Jeremy Devine, a 25-year-old employee at Randy’s Records. “A lot of young people buy turntables and then come into the store searching for any new record.”

Randy’s Records, located at 157 E. 900 South in Salt Lake City, is one of a handful of traditional record stores in Utah that has made its living off physical sales in the music industry. The store is housed in a old building covered with local concert promotions and a blue sign that reads “Utah’s legendary vinyl store since 1978.”

“I’ve been listening to vinyl my whole life,” said John Wright, a 59-year-old who said he’s a regular shopper at Randy’s Records. “I like the sound, and there is something to holding an album in your hands.”

Randy’s Records, located at 157 E. 900 South, is one of the few remaining record stores in Utah. Vinyl is making a comeback, with record revenue growing 32 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Photo by Craig Knight.

Randy’s Records, located at 157 E. 900 South, is one of the few remaining record stores in Utah. Vinyl is making a comeback, with record revenue growing 32 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Photo by Craig Knight.

Although there is a renewed demand for physical copies of music, online streaming has taken the throne when it comes to bringing in revenue in the digital age. In 2015, the music industry recorded $2.3 billion in sales for digital music while physical music brought in $691.5 million, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

“It’s surprising that people are buying physical format to me,” Devine said. “I think mostly people are buying it for sentimental purposes and [to] have a more involved relationship with [the music].”

Getting an album set up for listening on a turntable can be a hassle compared to streaming a song or album online, but Daniel Everett, a 36-year-old art professor at Brigham Young University, said it’s a necessary part of the listening process.

“It’s about slowness,” Everett said. “It feels like everything is fast, and I like listening to music as an event rather than listening to a song really quick.”

Part of the resurgence of vinyl is Record Store Day (RSD), an event held twice a year on one Saturday in April and on Black Friday “to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture” of independently owned record stores, according to the Record Store Day website.

“That’s the thing about going to a record store,” Devine said. “Being able to look around and find what interests you rather than listening to something online.”