Vinyl Sales Up 33 Percent? I Don’t Get It

Last week, The Nielsen Company posted their SoundScan sales figures for 2009: digital downloads continued to increase, CD purchases continued to decline, yadda yadda. But the real story here is that vinyl album sales went up 33% from the previous year.


Like I said in the headline, I just don’t get it. Fans of this ancient 19th century format will argue that “it just sounds better.” The last vinyl record I heard was “London Calling,” playing on (Chachi bandmate) Richard’s phonograph last Halloween. It sounded limp and tinny, the equivalent of turning down all the bands on your EQ except the rightmost one. Okay, maybe he just had cheap speakers. But if an LP’s playback quality is so superior to that of a digital music player, why would one play it through cheap speakers? Why go through all the trouble?

By “trouble” I mean the hassles of PHYSICAL MEDIA. They break. They scratch. They melt, for god’s sake. And a decent collection takes up multiple cubic feet of space, weighing hundreds of pounds. Want to listen to your favorite Beatles album on vinyl? Dig through your bins and boxes, pull the fragile disc out of its sleeve, carefully hold it by the edges, place it on the turntable, gently swing the arm over, resting the needle ever so gently in the groove… Ugh. Personally I’m much happier telling my pocket-sized iPhone, “Play album ‘Magical Mystery Tour.'” Boom. It plays.

Then there’s the artwork. Well, I can’t argue this point. I enjoy good album art. In fact, I purchased “Violent Femmes” and “Paul’s Boutique” on vinyl last year, not to listen to, but to frame and mount on my living room wall. 😛

So, my contention: listening to music etched onto a big black platter in the year 2010 is just a hipster novelty (DJs not included). Look, I wouldn’t mind pressing and selling a couple thousand copies of “Socially Inept” on vinyl, if the market is there. It’s just not for me.