it is cool that a lot more people are buying them now. “
records never really went away completely,
“ but the market for it kind of died out. says logan maldonado,
During the ascendancy of the new technology, vinyl remained a favorite of audiophiles who preferred its rich, warm resonance
over the compressed, sterile sound of digital replacements, but that was a miniscule market. Sales reached a nadir in 2006, dipping
below 1 million units. Since then, they have grown every year. In 2018, 16.8 million LPs were sold in the U.S. They were on track
to surpass those numbers in 2019. While still only accounting for about 4 percent of all music sales, it seems that records are off the
endangered species list.
“Part of it is everything comes back around, right?” says Catherine Hawksworth, owner of Modern Legend, a
downtown Wilmington store selling new vinyl. “And the trend aspect of it. It’s like everything, the ebb and
flow. It goes out and comes back in.”
Tim Freeman, owner of Yellow Dog Discs, has experienced the depths and the rebound. The store
was established in 2000 as an outlet for used music, videos and games. He made the questionable
decision to add vinyl to the inventory when he took over in 2004.
“All we had was CDs and DVDs,” he says. “I introduced records. Everybody thought I
was crazy. It wasn’t a big boom all of a sudden. There was a bit of an underground mar-ket
here for it. The local collectors slowly found out and started coming in. It grew
The store still sells used CDs, DVDs and video games, but “vinyl is the main
focus right now,” Freeman says. The records are sold to customers like Sarah
Hager, a 76-year-old who is browsing the bargain box where every record is
priced at $1, sold as is.
“I’m just seeing if they have any of my favorites,” she says. “I love all kinds
of music. It’s whatever gets my fancy at the moment.”
She picks out a couple to add to her extensive collection, which num-bers
at least 300. Just about every day, in just about any room in her
house, she’ll listen to a record or two.
“Just recently I bought a portable turntable that I can carry around
with me,” she says. “I put it on the countertop when I’m cooking. I just
like the way they sound, and I like the way they look. And if you get
tired of them, you can make a dish out of them. Really, we did that in
Girl Scouts. We made dishes out of the worn-out vinyl.”
What’s the appeal? Perhaps it’s a counter revolution, a form of analog
rebellion in an impersonal digital age. Listening to an album requires
some level of commitment. Take the old record off the shelf, place in
on the turntable, and use a brush and cleaning fluid to remove the dust.
Switch on the turntable, move the tone arm to the edge, and place the sty-lus
on the vinyl. Sit back and enjoy, often while reading the liner notes. And,
of course, when Side A is finished, turn it over and play Side B.
“I think it’s the tactile part of actually having that item in your hands and
looking at the cover and looking at the liner notes, reading where it was recorded,
who played on the record,” says Chuck Spry, who works at Gravity Records.
“There’s no intimacy in listening to something on a streaming service. Sitting there
with a glass of something, watching a record spin and listening to it, is a lot different
than saying, ‘Hey Alexa, play this.’”
WBM february 2020
an employee at
yellow dog discs.