Vinyl records spin back into popularity

Student Ryan Ferrara looks through the selection of vinyl available at Pegasus Records in downtown Florence. Records have seen an increase in sales this year, according to Nielsen.

by Life Editor Melissa Parker

Digital downloads and music streaming formats such as Pandora and Spotify have not dulled the sparkle of vinyl records which have held their own among young and old listeners alike.

Vinyl sales rose 53 percent this year, according to a report published by Nielsen, a company that studies the trends in what consumers buy and watch.

John Gifford, studio manager and head engineer for Fame Recording Studios, said current artists see the resurgence in album sales and want their music vinyl pressed.

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers said the group has 12 albums available on vinyl, and he has three solo albums also available on vinyl.

Gifford said he thinks people are reconnecting with the listening experience vinyl provides.

“Back when people listened to vinyl, that’s all they had to do,” he said. “It was a big thing to go out on a Friday night and take your allowance or your paycheck and go buy records. It was a whole experience just putting the vinyl on, physically playing it and following through the album credits.”

Owner of Pegasus Records Eli Flippen said his store has always been a place vinyl collectors come when they are in Florence looking to expand their collection.

Flippen said he has seen an increase in sales, especially in vinyl put out by new artists, and attributes the rise to music being made available in analog format again.

Because of the popularity of CDs, there was not a lot of vinyl produced in the ‘90s, he said. But the early to middle 2000s saw a repressing of older music, and new artists began putting their music on vinyl as well.

“For the past five or six years it’s been more difficult to find an artist who did not put their albums out on vinyl than it is to find one who is,” he said.

Hood said though he travels with an iPod, he spends much of his time at home listening to vinyl.

“I’m a devoted vinylphile with a collection of well over 3,000 records,” he said. “I like the sound better as well as the experience of physically playing an album. The artwork looks better, too.”

Senior Allison Lawrence said she got into vinyl because the bands she listens to began making limited pressings of their current albums on vinyl.

“Last year for my birthday, a friend got me ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ soundtrack on vinyl,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite gifts.”

Though the typical age of vinyl buyers at Pegasus is 30 and up, Flippen said the younger generation is beginning to see its appeal. Not only are young people buying for themselves, but parents are also buying albums for their collections, he said.

Senior Jessica Fowler said her parents influenced her interest in records.

“I like listening to them because it’s different,” she said. “I like how it feels original and like the way listening to music is supposed to be.”

Flippen said he thinks the addition of a CD in a slipcover inside the record or a digital download has added to the appeal.

“Vinyl is trendy again,” Lawrence said. “I like the aesthetic of it and songs sound better on vinyl.”