As the youth of Generation Z continues to bring back trends from decades past, like bell bottom pants, bucket hats and stonewashed jeans, vinyl record sales have also hit all time highs. The outdated format of vinyl LPs has made a strong comeback with the young generation of music listeners. While the majority of sales are still coming from rock albums, hip-hop, rap and pop music have been a major part of the sudden surge in vinyl sales. Artists like Taylor Swift, Tyler, The Creator and Adele, some of the world's biggest music names, have led the way in record sales. But to those of you who are buying these records…what does your collection say about you as a person and a listener?
Well, to start, there are a few types of vinyl buyers: those who buy them for the trend and novelty, those who buy them to support their favorite artists, and those who buy them to appreciate the music.
Vinyl has long been debated as the “best-sounding” format for music, another reason for its popularity. Is that why you buy them? Because it sounds like the raw master file with beautiful clarity for the bass? Not many people pay close enough attention to the music to hear the difference, or even listen to their records enough to know there IS a difference in sound quality. However, with the right set-up, you’ll notice the improvement from streaming a song off of the internet and listening to an actual record. It truly contributes to the appreciation of a song. Hearing your favorite song in high-fidelity can change the experience, for better or for worse, but if that’s why you listen to vinyl then you are a true connoisseur. These people tend to have the biggest collections with the most variety, but a lot of it doesn’t leave the shelf. There’s some classic rock (a few alternative albums too), some hip-hop and some compilations, but they listen for the album experience. They have their favorites and all of the classic albums that have been on a pedestal for years. They also have the “underground artists” and the ones you’ve never heard of that they don’t stop raving about. They view 90% of their collection as masterpieces. If this is you, I guess you can call yourself an audiophile. You’re also sort of a snob about records, but in a pretty safe way.
Do you know how vinyl works? Or is it just an oversized CD? Do you even bother looking at the cover art? Do you even LISTEN to the records? Ok, ok, maybe that got a little heated, but believe it or not there are people who buy records without a turntable to play them. They glue them to the wall. How can you appreciate vinyl when you don’t even listen to it? It’s simple, you can’t. Go stream your music instead, you’ll save a lot of money. You probably only own 5 records anyway and we both know they were all released last year. Sorry to say it, but if this sounds like you, you’re a poser.
Some people buy vinyl to have something tangible from their favorite artists. There is a completely different experience when handling an LP than just clicking on a song on Spotify. You like the music and appreciate vinyl but you’re not buying records for the clout or bragging rights. Your heart is in the right place and you don’t care about the vinyl snob standards, or any of the stuff I’m writing right now. You listen because you like the music and collecting is a fun hobby, but nothing too serious. You’ve also got a pretty decent collection of your favorite music. I’ll bet there are some random old records in there too that you got from your parents or grandparents when you started collecting. You cherish that one record from your favorite artist and you probably play it at least once a week. If this sounds like you, you’re in a good spot as far as collecting goes. In fact, you’re probably getting close to the “audiophile” persona a bit, but you won’t ever be a snob. Your collection is going to keep growing but it shouldn’t get out of hand. After a while, your collection will be one of your most valued possessions.
If you don’t identify with any of the buyer-personas listed above, you probably find yourself in a very, VERY, casual relationship with vinyl records. You go shopping once in a while and you add a new record a few times a year, but you actually listen to them too. It’s not a novelty thing or a hobby, it’s just some background noise that you actively listen to. You’re cool, but you could definitely use some more variety because your friends get tired of hearing The Blue Album every time they come over.
There’s plenty of time for this vinyl personality of yours to change, because vinyl isn’t going anywhere. And if you don’t own any vinyl, it’s always a hobby to get into whenever you’re ready. Records are pretty easy to come by at Goodwill or garage sales, so get yourself a turntable and start collecting. Join the 70s trend that decided to come back because it’s actually cool.