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Vinyl makes a comeback this Saturday
April 16, 2009 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Is it "a momentary blip on the inevitable decline of a dying format" or "the onset of an extended revival that will see the record outlive its arch-nemesis the CD?" Last year more people bought vinyl LPs than in any year since Nielsen started keeping track in 1991, nearly doubling sales from the year before. Turntable sales rebounded sharply in 2006. This Saturday, coordinated with the 2nd international Record Store Day, dozens of artists and labels are releasing exclusive vinyl versions of unreleased tracks, rare 7" reissues, remasters and new songs, solely to participating stores. Here's the full list (most with cover art here). posted by mediareport (89 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Vinyl LPs are great. Until you have to move.
posted by billysumday at 6:37 AM on April 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


>"Plus, there's just the general idea that vinyl is cooler."

This thread is probably going to turn into yet another debate about the sound quality of CDs vs. vinyl vs. MP3s, but I'm sure we can all agree that This Is True.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:39 AM on April 16, 2009


Don't forget the gold-plated fuses.
posted by DU at 6:40 AM on April 16, 2009


> Vinyl LPs are great. Until you have to move.

*has a good, long look at his vinyl collection*
*considers the logistics of moving*
*shudders*
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:42 AM on April 16, 2009


When you get boxes of CDs, it's not a lot easier. Sure, you can fit more albums per square inch, but a 60lb box of music is still 60lbs (note to self - large boxes are great for clearing shelves but SUCK to carry when fully loaded).

Plus, you can actually see the details on the album art, and picture discs are pretty awesome (not hawking for the site, just a quick example of pic discs).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:46 AM on April 16, 2009


Last year probably also saw an uptick in the wearing of flight goggles, top hats, and bustle skirts (thanks, steampunk). I don't think that qualifies as a "revival" though.
posted by adamrice at 6:48 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't hear someone talk about how great vinyl sounds without thinking of this Mr Show sketch.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:49 AM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Don't call it a comeback. It's been here for years!
posted by you just lost the game at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2009


According to the stats, vinyl has jumped from a meager .2% of US music sales to a meager .4%. Wake me up when it goes over 1%.
posted by eschatfische at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Whenever the topic of vinyl comes up, I always realize this divide between those of us who grew up with them and called them "records" and also realized that this was simple technology - that you could "play" them with a sewing needle and "spin" them with a pencil.

On the other side of this divide is, well, this old ask metafilter question:
Now, it's easy enough - you record it on your PC and reverse the waveform...Were all these kids so desperate to find messages from Satan that they all ripped open their record players and reversed the motors?
posted by vacapinta at 6:57 AM on April 16, 2009


Yeah, the post was getting long or I would have mentioned it, but all the articles do point out that vinyl is still a miniscule percentage of total music sales.
posted by mediareport at 6:57 AM on April 16, 2009


When you get boxes of CDs, it's not a lot easier. Sure, you can fit more albums per square inch, but a 60lb box of music is still 60lbs

And....digital music weighs nothing.
posted by billysumday at 7:00 AM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Vinyl finally died as the only real format for dance singles about 8 years or so ago when the cd-j 1000s came out. It's rather that I go to a club that even has technics any more. The only time I see djs break out vinyl these days is to use with serrato. The last vinyl record store in DC just announced it was shutting down.

I've got about 1100 classic dance records on vinyl that I think I'd have a hard time giving away at this point. I'm pretty sure it's dead as a commercial format at this point.
posted by empath at 7:01 AM on April 16, 2009


It's rare that I
posted by empath at 7:03 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You just can't beat the warm, rich sound of a needle popping and bumping over dust.
posted by Nelson at 7:03 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


of a needle popping and bumpi
posted by Nelson at 7:04 AM on April 16, 2009


of a needle popping and bump
posted by Nelson at 7:04 AM on April 16, 2009


oops, sorry, had a skip there
posted by Nelson at 7:04 AM on April 16, 2009 [23 favorites]


You also can't beat the warm, rich sound of a hard drive crashing.
posted by you just lost the game at 7:08 AM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


And....digital music weighs nothing.

Sure, but you can't roll a joint on an MP3.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:10 AM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I really don't get the vinyl thing. I mean, yes, I realize that records are inherently more hip and authentic than any more sensible format, but I still don't get the appeal. I came of age during the era of the cassette -- a format that NOBODY misses -- so I don't really feel any of the nostalgia associated with the vinyl format. And although I realize that the LP sleeve is superior for cover art, all my music has been digital since 1999 anyway, so I don't really get the cover art angle.

Sure, the sound quality is infinitesimally better than CDs, but that is soon negated once the record has even been moderately exposed to the elements. It's a clunky, outdated format that requires me to be way too careful with physical objects, something that I, as a natural clutz, sorta detest.

Really, the only people whose affection for records I can understand are DJs, and that's because LPs are pretty much essential to their job. Perhaps it is they who are driving record sales?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:10 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't have a record player but still want that warm vinyl sound? Run your audio through this.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:14 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It should be pointed out that CDs are just as dead as vinyl, they just haven't had as long to decompose. CDs will survive as the mixtape medium for a while, but downloading wins in the end.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:16 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this something I would have to be a Williamsburg hipster to understand?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:20 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I left mine behind in a move 25 years ago.

As for which sounds better: every time you take vinyl up to the counter, you should get the option to play the ears game. If you go for it, the store clerk takes your picture and then plays you five recordings, each either straight from vinyl or a digital recording of a vinyl recording. You get an extra percentage off your purchase price for each correct guess. If you don't get at least four right, however, the clerk adds your picture to the "Can't hear the difference but buys it anyway." video showing on a large screen behind the counter. People who get five of five are added to the "Hears the difference." video showing on another screen.
posted by pracowity at 7:20 AM on April 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


with the exception of truly rare recordings, a record collection is one of the worst investments one can make - and now that recording engineers have actually learned how to record things digitally, i'm not convinced the sound quality is better
posted by pyramid termite at 7:22 AM on April 16, 2009


The mild uptick is probably due in no small part to USB turntables being widely available now.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:23 AM on April 16, 2009


CDJs didn't kill the vinyl market for dance singles. Final Scratch did. A DJ still can't rely on the presence of CD players everywhere, but Final Scratch and similar products are backward compatible.
posted by mkb at 7:24 AM on April 16, 2009


oops, sorry, had a skip there
Kids today only know what the expression "like a broken record" means from context. How weird is that?
posted by Karmakaze at 7:25 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I grew up in the days of vinyl. I amassed a sizable collection which was long ago given away as it was replaced by digital, purely for sound quality reasons.
Add the fact that I now listen to 99% of my music while driving, running or walking makes vinyl a non-starter.
posted by rocket88 at 7:27 AM on April 16, 2009


Although several of you have pointed out that the actual statistics are not very impressive, I still think there is something to this. There are a number of people out there, like me, who download massive amounts of music for free (most of which is sadly out-of-print). At first, whenever I found something that I liked, I would buy it on CD. This was obviously just a charitable act, as I already had a perfectly good digital copy. Now, whenever possible, I buy the record instead, since I often find myself wanting to listen to that new favorite on vinyl. I think we can all agree that CDs are on their way out; they are, after all, a perfect contradiction--a digital and physical medium. I think the only thing keeping them alive is the good faith of music fans who still buy them out of a sense of obligation to their favorite artists, even if the actual CD is never opened. This says much more for the loyalty of fandom than it does for the compact disc. The old-fashioned record, though, changes the dynamic of buying music from one of pure charity to one more akin to mutual beneficence.
posted by cnjnctvsynth at 7:29 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]




I buy a lot of records. I've thought about why that is quite a bit, and here are the things I've come up with to explain the appeal. YMMV.

1) I really like to handle and look at records. Even a very plain record jacket is nicer than the same plain cd jacket. This is not simply a matter of scale, but also of material. Most cds are plastic and feel shitty in the hand. CD booklets are usually flimsy and feel like the require care when holding. Record jackets are sturdy and easy to see, feel and read. I like that a lot better.

2) To the extent that I like nice objects for reasons that exceed those above, I realized at a certain point that I have never liked a cd as an object. That's true even given several very neatly designed cds I've owned.

3) I like the ritual of putting the record on and putting the needle on the record. This may be nostalgia, but it's still true. There is something viscerally thrilling about the physicality of the act of starting a record playing that I really enjoy. For this reason I very rarely use the automatic start button on my turntable.

4) I like the time-size of a side of a record. As someone who has a bit of a thing about finishing what I started, I find it much more difficult to turn off a cd than I do to switch to a new record after hearing just one side. I don't know why this is, but one side of an album feels complete in a way that stopping a cd after song five does not.

5) You'll notice that none of those reasons have to do with how hip records are.

I own plenty of cds and a lot of digital music, and I love that music. Particularly the purely digital files cause me no small amount of worry since I don't want them to go up in a puff of electronic smoke. But I don't love those in the same way I love my records.
posted by OmieWise at 7:41 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to be really into vinyl, collected records, etc. Then I moved to New York and discovered digital music weighed nothing, was free, and sounded just fine out of my lap-top speakers. Different musical storage media is appropriate to different situations; records, CD, tiny cubes holding years of digital music, sheet music are nothing more than ways of transmitting sound information. I've come to realize that none are inherently better, just better for some situations. The important thing is the quality of the recording. Even a FLAC or 180 gram vinyl is going to sound bad if the recording is compressed and clipped out. Even a cassette can sound pretty good if it's a fresh tape and a clear recording.

Also, in case what I said wasn't hip enough, I would like to note that, actually, I only listen to live acoustic music made with hand-made instruments by gutterpunks.

... and I CAN hear the difference. So there. I'm hip.
posted by fuq at 7:41 AM on April 16, 2009


Wax cylinders are cooler.
posted by rocket88 at 7:50 AM on April 16, 2009


Although several of you have pointed out that the actual statistics are not very impressive, I still think there is something to this.

Just as a point of data, my local store owner told me that 17% of their sales are now new vinyl. If you haven't checked out the selection at your local store recently, you might be surprised at how much vinyl they're selling.
posted by mediareport at 7:50 AM on April 16, 2009


I back up all my data to vinyl.
posted by orme at 7:51 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, there's really no reason the whole format war has to be an either/or thing.

I love vinyl records, and have probably a couple thousand of them (although it's been a while since I did a hard count). I like the sound of them and the artwork, sure, but because I collect old, obscure Canadian music, most of what I'm looking for is not available on CD or for download (legit or otherwise, aside from similarly-inclined audioblog nerds). So there's that.

I don't buy many CDs these days, although I still pick up most of Numero Group's reissues. However, my wife and I still have over over 500 albums' worth that were bought back when CDs were on top, and we still listen to them all the time.

And then there's MP3s. I'm a big fan of audioblogs, and stroll through my favourite half-dozen every week or so, downloading everything I can. My music collection is vastly richer and more varied for it, and I rarely leave the house without my iPod.

Tapes? Well...I've hung on to a few mixtapes that people I care about made me over the years, almost entirely for sentimental reasons, but other than that, fuck tapes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:54 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


the sound quality is infinitesimally better than CDs, but that is soon negated once the record has even been moderately exposed to the elements

That's why we don't tend to leave records outside.

I've always had records. It took me a long time to get them all together and the thought of getting rid of them seems suicidal to me. It's not something I've ever really considered.

I have a full external harddrive of stuff I've downloaded too. I download lots of music. I just sort of think of that as a way to find out what I want to buy, or a queue of stuff I haven't found yet. It makes me itch if there's music I really love that I can only obtain as mp3. It's not a replacement for the real thing. And I've never felt like I could satisfy all my cravings through only one outlet. I was compiling wedding music the other day and I was even astonished the breadth of stuff I was able to find often with little more than a google search, but I would hate to rely on that as being the only way to get music. I'd have no control over the quality of the source or the rip or the encoding or anything. It's alright in a pinch, but it's no good for actual long-term listening.

I moved four months ago, and it took an entire day just to move records (and CDs, books, DVDs...but mostly records). I also own a player piano, which, as a renter who moves every few years, is orders of magnitude more inconvenient to own. These things are important to me, though, and it's not important to me that they be convenient. It's good to invest effort in things you value.
posted by anazgnos at 7:56 AM on April 16, 2009


Kids today only know what the expression "like a broken record" means from context. How weird is that?

Not particularly any weirder than the majority of idioms we've all been using for the past 75 years that reference things or processes that have no direct impact on our daily lives.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:04 AM on April 16, 2009


I came of age during the era of the cassette -- a format that NOBODY misses...

I miss them. I have a stash of studio C90s in storage and keep my Nak MR1 aligned on a regular basis.

I don't like using any formats I can't erase. Plus, no DRM.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:10 AM on April 16, 2009


Fuck it, I'm going wax cylinders.
posted by Artw at 8:10 AM on April 16, 2009


Sure, the sound quality is infinitesimally better than CDs

Please define "sound quality".
posted by rocket88 at 8:15 AM on April 16, 2009


"Kids today only know what the expression "like a broken record" means from context. How weird is that?"

"Not particularly any weirder than the majority of idioms we've all been using for the past 75 years that reference things or processes that have no direct impact on our daily lives."


Oh, get off your high horse.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:16 AM on April 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


My own vinyl (or 'record collection' as we elderly folk liked to call them) went up on ebay years ago... And I was just thinking this morning how my cd collection is just gathering dust and I really should get around to digitizing it (... again. I did it once a while ago but deleted most of it when I ran out of space. Hopefully a new PC soon will incentivise me)

Remember last year listening to a documentary on dub-step where the DJs said that music was first released on limited press vinyl to avoid piracy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:19 AM on April 16, 2009


Sometimes I spin my 30 year old vinyl for old times sake and my beloved records sound awful because I played them so much. Maybe a fresh needle or calibrated tone arm would help, or maybe the quality of the vinyl wasn't good, but every time I play them I feel like I'm ruining them just a little bit more each time. As kids we used to advise each other to tape albums as soon as we bought them to prevent wear and tear, and it seems a variation on that advice holds true today:

Founder Hunter Mack bundles his records with download cards that give customers access to digital tracks at no extra cost, but vinyl remains the selling point.
posted by hoppytoad at 8:24 AM on April 16, 2009


I think an obvious factor that is largely missing is that records are a collector thing - I've never met anyone with a significant collection that didn't have the collector bug. And that always has its own logic. Like, can you believe those idiots with their canceled stamps? You can't even use them as postage! You think LPs are a pain to move, try moving Ming vases. Or first editions.

And the economics are different too. Is it a dying format? I don't think it is ever going to compete with whatever is the mass-delivery model of music again (MP3s and CDs these days). But I think that people will still be buying LPs long after the era of the CD, say, has passed (just as it has already outlived the 8- and 4-track cassette format). Just as I believe that when the digital book has pretty much routed the paper book, there will still be first edition hardcovers. I also think that eventually it will be the only format that people will pay more than a few dollars an album for, likely the only music format sold as a discrete physical object at all (but it will take a relatively LONG time to trade out the installed technology base of the CD, heck, I sold my 1/4" cassette collection to a music store not a year ago and got okay money for it).

As far as new pressings go, one of the things I find particularly interesting is that it is an economic model where throwing in the MP3s as a giveaway makes great sense - the penny it costs to give away a download is easily absorbed into the cost of the record, and greatly increases the functionality of the purchase.
posted by nanojath at 8:31 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm giggling with pleasure at the frankly obscene level of detail I hear (Ich! Ich werde König!), but of course, I'm hearing the pops and crackles that a 30+ year-old record is likely to have. Shouldn't a $350,000 stereo system be completely free of such impurities?

"It's like when you go to the symphony, and the old men are coughing—same thing," Fremer says.

posted by metaplectic at 8:36 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just finished converting all of my 1200CDs to lossless this last week, and all the CDs will be packed away in storage (and maybe eventually disposed of though I do have ethical qualms about selling off music that I have copied.) I am having an awfully hard time selling off my rather fancy Boltz CD rack too. So yeah, I am fairly sure that the era of the CD is close to done.

But I still have several hundred vinyl LPs, and I do occasionally pick up new stuff because I can't seem to resist digging through crates. So maybe that's a data point in favour of this article. But... seriously, if I had a time-efficient way of converting all that vinyl to lossless digital I would do it without a second thought.

So I suspect it may be just the friction that comes from being analog that keeps it around...
posted by pascal at 8:39 AM on April 16, 2009


There is so much weird stuff that got pressed to vinyl and never rereleased. Having turntables is worth it just for the sample digging possibilities.

Plus, I have adapted my music-hunting capabilities beyond to what a digital system can offer. In my collection, every sound has an assigned physical location, a color, a texture, and neighbors. Something like Cover Flow doesn't begin to measure up, especially since it's one big chorus line of covers viewed through a tiny window.
posted by mkb at 9:01 AM on April 16, 2009


> Founder Hunter Mack bundles his records with download cards that give customers access to digital tracks at no extra cost, but vinyl remains the selling point.

I would challenge that. My bet is many fans are treating these as digital music purchases with collectible art thrown in. The album sleeve can be framed on the wall and is more valuable than the vinyl, which serves primarily as a token of authenticity or, in the worst case, a hard-copy backup of the download.
posted by ardgedee at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2009


I knew CD was dead when I found that Peter Paul & Mary's Reunion, released as an LP in 1978 but never released as a CD (presumably for lack of demand; it is one of their more obscure albums), had become available as a download.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2009


Last year probably also saw an uptick in the wearing of flight goggles, top hats, and bustle skirts (thanks, steampunk). I don't think that qualifies as a "revival" though.

But it SHOULD, damn it all!
posted by happyroach at 9:11 AM on April 16, 2009


Kids today only know what the expression "like a broken record" means from context. How weird is that?

A couple years ago I saw a bit of news filler where they were stopped college students in the street and played the sound of needle being pulled off a record. All of them knew what the sound meant ("Oh, it's the comedy sound" and "It means somebody just said something weird") but none of them knew where it came from.

Yeah, yeah: selective editing and all that. And I know, YOU'RE a college student and you'd totally know where the sound came from. Look, this wasn't 60 Minutes, it was just a fun little piece about how quickly things can lose their context.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:19 AM on April 16, 2009


I still buy mad vinyl, for a couple of reasons:

1) I love crate digging, and it's the most economical way to do so. I regularly get great vinyl for a quarter or less. It's less economical than just slappin' on the eyepatch and piratin', sure, but it's cheaper than used CDs nearly everywhere I go.

2) I love punk rock weirdness, and there are a bunch of vinyl-only labels still around. So I drop $5 for a 7".

3) Along with that, most of those vinyl labels also give me mp3s or a CD-R. Boom, I've got the music in two formats.

4) A lot of shit is still out of print. So, I could track down some dude's rip of his vinyl which he's posted to a blog or I could just buy the damn thing for a quarter and enjoy it.

I only really listen to CDs in the car (like I used to with tapes) and am bummed that my tapedeck at home has been worn out. But there are all sorts of tricks I learned from making mixtapes, and all sorts of crazy mixtapes that I still have, so I'm not interested in the death of that format. It was always kinda bullshit to buy factory tapes (wait, more money for less music? Fuck you.) but I have great cross-faded mixes all over, along with sound collages and other weird shit that I could do with an MP3 editing program, but non-linear editing leaves me fucking with things too long.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dial it in.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2009


and now that recording engineers have actually learned how to record things digitally

And eliminate pesky things like "dynamics"...

And of course, a CD in theory should have a greater dynamic range than vinyl is capable of, but this capability is almost entirely unused at this point.
posted by anazgnos at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2009


My girlfriend and I started collecting records recently. We're both music hounds and download tons of stuff, and buy CDs now and then, often direct from the artist at shows. We could never afford to buy all the music we listen to; but most of the stuff we download is just a passing interest and winds up sitting mostly forgotten on a hard drive. For the top 5%, albums which we've really enjoyed or even that have had a profound effect on us, we seek them out on vinyl. It seems to be an appropriate way of acknowledging the album's importance to us, and also of supporting the artist.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:24 AM on April 16, 2009


WTF? Bitches Brew on iTunes costs how fucking much?
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on April 16, 2009


Kids today only know what the expression "like a broken record" means from context. How weird is that?

my friend told me a great story a while back. He was at a friend's house and talking to his friend's teenage daughter about music. She's a big fan of the Killers and the editors, any friend was telling her how much a lot of that stuff sounded like bands he used to listen to. The next day he dropped off a portable dancette record player for her and a load of old 12" singles to listen to, a god mixture of seventies and eighties indie like Joy Division, Scritti Politti, the Chameleons, etc.

A week later he came by to pick them up and asked what she thought of the music. She said she loved it, and totally saw what he was talking about, so many of the bands sounded exactly like the bands she liked today, she had no idea some of them owed such a debt to these other bands. He asked her which her favourite one was and she pulled out a battered old Shriekback 12". He said yeah, that one's pretty cool, especially the B side.

She stared at him and said "the what side?". She had no idea you could turn the record over and play the other side.

as far as the debate goes, I love vinyl, and I always will, but what I think I may love even more is my valve amp it all goes through. Now that's the way to make music sound warm.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:27 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


WTF? Bitches Brew on iTunes costs how fucking much?

$19.99, same as in town.
(Although it's B*****s Brew on iTunes.)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:41 AM on April 16, 2009


Hey! The Queen! I've got a great idea for your next gift to Obama!
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on April 16, 2009


and now that recording engineers have actually learned how to record things digitally

Dance music producers really took advantage of CDs in the past few years with basslines that are now as heavy or heavier than kick drums-- Eric Prydz, for one early example. That would have skipped the needle right out of the groove before.
posted by empath at 9:50 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


A couple years ago I saw a bit of news filler where they were stopped college students in the street and played the sound of needle being pulled off a record. All of them knew what the sound meant ("Oh, it's the comedy sound" and "It means somebody just said something weird") but none of them knew where it came from.

It might also have to do with the fact that the sound effect doesn't really reflect reality. It's an exaggerated sound, and even if you've listened to records for years, you may not have ever heard that sort of sound in real life. Much like I've also never heard anyone Wilhelm scream when surprised or in pain, and a real punch is no where near as loud as Indiana Jones's are in the movies.

I'd bet at least a few of them also over-thought the question:

Interviewer: "Where's this sound come from?"

Film student: "Oh geez, that sound effect, I've heard it a fucking million times, it's everywhere! Does anyone know the origin of the sound effect? I mean, I know where the Wilhelm scream is from, but the record scratch, isn't that kind of like that other scream, where everyone knows it but no one knows where it's from? Is this some sort of trick question?" *hyperventilates, passes out*
posted by explosion at 9:54 AM on April 16, 2009


I synchronize my vinyl music whilst I watch flickering tintypes on a white bedsheet.

[Insert Dark Side of the Rainbow reference here]
posted by The Deej at 9:55 AM on April 16, 2009


There is so much weird stuff that got pressed to vinyl and never rereleased.

QFT.

I've got a ton of white label bootleg remixes that were never released on CD, because they were never legal to begin with. I wouldn't be surprised if there were no more than a few hundred copies ever produced of some of them.

Most of the early years of rave music only exists on vinyl. A lot of labels went under taking their entire catalogs with them, and nobody is going to take the effort to digitally remaster and rerelease a middling dance music record from 1997.

This guy has been recording his old school breakbeat collection to mp3 and uploading them.. He's really providing a valuable service, a lot of those songs might be lost forever, otherwise.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on April 16, 2009


Ahhhhh.... I hope my local shop has the Allá EP on Saturday. A few of the 3000 Flight of the Conchords discs would be nice as well.

I visited the shop last year for Record Store Day-- the owner said she had more sales by mid-afternoon than she had all month. Hopefully this year will be as successful.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:19 AM on April 16, 2009


There is so much weird stuff that got pressed to vinyl and never rereleased.

I still regularly get requests from people I have never heard of for a Severn Darden LP that I uploaded to Metachat a few months ago. But it's pretty much the only LP I've bought in the last ten years, and I don't see that changing much. Unless I find and can justify buying the 11 disc version of the Firesign Theatre's Dear Friends.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:22 AM on April 16, 2009


There is a sound argument for records outliving CDs. Digital music devices are a direct and complete replacement of CDs except for the tactile and album art type aspects, and CDs aren't great for those non-music things. LPs sound different, and they are great for those non-music aspects.

Note the word different, rather than better.


5) You'll notice that none of those reasons have to do with how hip records are.

I think we disagree about the definition of that word..
posted by Chuckles at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2009


And eliminate pesky things like "dynamics

umm, that's mastering, not recording - it doesn't have to be done like that, but unfortunately it often is
posted by pyramid termite at 10:49 AM on April 16, 2009


I have always really enjoyed buying vinyl as collector's items, but haven't bothered to hook up a working turntable for over five years. (I need to get a new needle for my technic.) I started collecting vinyl about the time everyone was rebuying everything on CD, so I got some good stuff extremely cheap. Now I mostly only buy special releases by artists I'm really into.

That list of special releases makes me drool, but I have prior commitments this weekend and can't get to any stores. Damn non-digital music.
posted by threeturtles at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2009


I didn't read everything above, but upon skimming I didn't see any comments about the possibility that the record industry and perhaps recording artists are pushing this meme because vinyl is much more difficult to "share", rip, download, instantly upload a torrent to send to the ubernets, and toss away. It may just be an article about an uptick in the Bay Area, but it is possible that there is some larger "cons-piracy" (get it?) going on here, that people know, and are spreading the virtues of vinyl over digital and that the physical object, with the cost, the spending that goes along with it, becomes the focal point again rather than the very often free (for the pirating and friend-sharing consumer) audio file.

Not that I don't love and miss vinyl and not, as an artist, that I don't appreciate artists getting paid, but couldn't the driving force behind this predominantly be the money and not the nostalgia or hipness, or better understanding of the benefits of vinyl. Just a thought.

/anti-capitalist cons~piracy rant
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 11:33 AM on April 16, 2009


This LP Crashes Hard Drives FTW.
posted by naju at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2009


I called my local store to see if they'd have the Lykke Li album and they didn't know. Apparently the stores aren't being provided with a list of the promos they'll be receiving, unless it's just my store.
posted by winna at 1:39 PM on April 16, 2009


>"Plus, there's just the general idea that vinyl is cooler."

This thread is probably going to turn into yet another debate about the sound quality of CDs vs. vinyl vs. MP3s, but I'm sure we can all agree that This Is True.


Nonsense. It's obviously warmer.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:25 PM on April 16, 2009


> Kids today only know what the expression "like a broken record" means from context.
> How weird is that?
> posted by Karmakaze at 10:25 AM on April 16 [1 favorite +] [!]

No weirder than only knowing what an hourglass is from staring at the little icon that means "Your system is knackered again."
posted by jfuller at 3:04 PM on April 16, 2009


Vinyl for just audio? Are you people living in the dark ages? It's all about video on vinyl these days!

I love that no one has mentioned this to Easy Street Records, I was able to score never-been-played copies of Sesame Street Fever, and some rare Dave Clark Five, for only $0.99. Neither are available in a modern format. While I've always been buying vinyl, these days, it's not new techno, it's old stuff where licensing issues have prevented a digital release.
posted by nomisxid at 3:06 PM on April 16, 2009


I work at a record store in a college town with a pretty large new and used vinyl selection and we're selling at least twice as much vinyl as we used to. And it's not just to the collectors and analog-only types who've long since patronized the store but to a lot of kids. Like high school/early college-age kids. The very same ones that, no joke, did not know what a turntable was three years ago. I don't know if this means anything long term, but I will say the advent of the free digital download coupon accompanying most new indie (and some major) vinyl releases certainly sweetens the deal.

That said, the kids don't call them "records," they call them "vinyls." Ex: "I'd like to buy these Animal Collective vinyls" or "Do you have a player for vinyls?" The old grump in me finds this totally irritating.

I own a lot of CDs and a lot of vinyl. I think moving the vinyl is actually easier because I'm less tempted to overfill the boxes.
posted by thivaia at 3:42 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am young and buy vinyl because:

1. I download everything, but I still want to support the artists. I do not own a CD player so it seems kind of pointless to buy something I could only play on my computer when I have MP3s. I buy pretty much all my vinyl straight from the bands at shows since I don't really need any more t-shirts, or I preorder stuff I really want from their (usually small, indie) labels.

2. I'm an artist so I appreciate the time, attention to detail, and other things that go into making really awesome packaging which a lot of vinyl releases have. Plus the size lends itself to cool things. For instance, the newest Earth record is pretty amazing (and so is everything else on Southern Lord). I have a lot of records that are screen printed, handmade packaging, and otherwise just sweet in general.

3. I grew up listening to punk rock so I already have plenty of random, weird, small press stuff that was only released on vinyl and will never appear again anywhere, ever.

4. The ritual of actually getting out a record and holding it in your hands, putting the needle on, flipping it, etc. CDs and iTunes aren't the same.

5. The collecting aspect.


I don't really care whether it sounds better or worse, whether it's a good "investment", or how hip it is. I just like owning the physical object, CDs just don't do it for me.
posted by bradbane at 3:44 PM on April 16, 2009


This LP Crashes Hard Drives FTW.

Ha. That's the one I'm most excited about. It's a comp from one of the most interesting labels in existence right now: Numero Group out of Chicago. Starting from the first release in the Eccentric Soul series, they've put out a ton of awesome, thoughtfully annotated, beautifully packaged collections - this one probably being the most bizarre (in concept if not sound).

At their blog this week they're highlighting some of their favorite record stores around the country.
posted by mediareport at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2009


I had someone tell me once how records are the best because "blah, blah, blah", and newer/digital recordings are distancing themselves from being good recordings. I told him about lossless digital recordings and such but that didn't seem to impact his high and mighty thoughts about vinyl. So I ended up asking a friend of mine about this. My friend is a part of a two man group of DJs that have a crapton of records, like a housefull. That's not an exageration. They both used to teach classes at the EMP in Seattle for Djing.

Anyway, his explanation for buying records was simple: "It's cheap."
I believe he also mentioned the idea that some things are out of print and that you could only find them on vinyl.

It's been mentioned before in this thread but I think the technology drives this to a certain extent ie. turntables, etc..
posted by P.o.B. at 4:32 PM on April 16, 2009


I have 10s of thousands of digital albums (almost 2 terrabytes). Over the past few years, I've noticed that I'm much less attached to music than I was a decade ago. I've started wondering why that is and I blame the iPod (I love my iPod). I have little connection to my music because the only time I really hear it is by myself. Thru headphones.

I miss having people over and putting on a record and listening to it all the way through. We did this, back in the day, for two reasons: 1) it was a bit of a pain to take off after one song and 2) people actually made records worth listening to all the way through.

So for the past month I've been buying up some nice choice pieces of vinyl when I come across them (pays to have a good friend at Vortex keeping an eye out!). And today, I bought a turntable (been without one for about 5 years). I'm really looking forward to hooking it up tomorrow and sitting and really listening to what I've acquired.

Here's some of the titles I bought in the past week:

Bobby Bland - Dreamer
Cat Power - Dark End of the Street
CCR - Willy & the Poor Boys
CCR - Cosmos Records
The Band - Music from Big Pink
Joe Tex - Best of
Lester Young - Lester Swings
Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
Lavern Baker - Sings Bessie Smith
Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?
Rolling Stones - "Between the Buttons"
Bonnie Prince Billy - Ease on Down the Road
Bob Dylan - Bootleg #7
Van Morrison - Veedon Fleece

I have all these records already, as MP3s, but I'm betting they're gonna sound different. Not necessarily better, but .... right.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:10 PM on April 16, 2009


If significant numbers of people actually buy vinyl for the cardboard it comes in, record companies would do well to release CDs in elaborate album-sized packages.

You give them your credit card number and they burn the CD, print the album-sized jacket (with lyrics, pretty pictures, etc.), and mail it to you. To play to the collectors and drive the single-unit price up, they could limit the number they'll manufacture or print different versions of the packaging (and switch the song selection slightly).
posted by pracowity at 11:23 PM on April 16, 2009


Something else to note: I have a fair amount of CDs that, ten to twenty years out, need to be replaced due to bitrot, especially stuff from around, like, '87 or so. That means that a lot of the reissues that have the mixing I prefer (like John Martyn's Solid Air, which has had a couple of different mixes), I have to replace again. Vinyl, if I can find it, makes more sense—it's still in good condition. Same with a lot of jazz, if the jazz ever even came out on CD. There's still huge gaps in the loft jazz scene from the late '70s that basically mean tracking down awesome sides that'll never come out because who the fuck knows who owns the rights.
posted by klangklangston at 12:40 AM on April 17, 2009


You could rip your CD collection before it rots. And if you sent copies to friends in exchange for taking copies of their recordings, you would be providing one another a valuable archiving and educational service.
posted by pracowity at 3:55 AM on April 17, 2009


5) You'll notice that none of those reasons have to do with how hip records are.

I think we disagree about the definition of that word..


I'm not sure I understand you. We really must disagree if a list of practical reasons for liking records, that was as true 20 years ago as it is now, suggests that I like vinyl because it's "hip."
posted by OmieWise at 5:09 AM on April 17, 2009


Thanks mediareport. I am looking forward to picking up some of these records. I am on a plane tomorrow. Hopefully some will be left by Sunday.
posted by caddis at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2009


"You could rip your CD collection before it rots. And if you sent copies to friends in exchange for taking copies of their recordings, you would be providing one another a valuable archiving and educational service."

Yeah, one of my beefs with the RIAA is that they try to have it both ways. If I'm licensing the content, they should replace it when the physical media fails. If I'm buying the object, I should be able to do what I damn well please with it. (I realize that these are actually separate rights concerned, but then, they also went after used CD stores.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Next thing you know these mp3 freaks are going to start saying that mono sucks! ;)
posted by caddis at 6:50 PM on April 17, 2009


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