The evolution of music listening mediums has seen unprecedented growth in the last three decades ... obviously.
Then, why in the name of Rick Rubin are we still buying vinyl records?
Today, when I hear a song on a commercial or on the radio that I even slightly enjoy, I can whip out the smartphone, press some buttons on an app, get the name and artist title, buy the song and forever have a digital version on several different hard drives for listening or sharing.
The digital age has brought so many wonderful advancements in the way in which information, and especially music, is delivered to the person or to the robot. Despite all of these advancements, of which I utilize all, I still find great enjoyment in the rudimentary way in which a vinyl record shares music.
Listening to vinyl in the digital age seems a quest of redundancy and inconvenience. With all the digital avenues pulsating music into our everyday lives, what once was a rare activity - seeing the pubs of Ireland, plains of Africa and the moon of Endor - listening to music becomes the wallpaper to our busy, consumption-heavy, modern lives.
Let me draw a metaphor. No one writes letters anymore. Why the Puff Daddy would you sit down and write a letter when it is far easier to email, Facebook or Twitter? Handwriting anything seems futile in our society, with the exception of signing the credit card receipt at dinner.
In the same way at which a handwritten letter (especially to my grandma) can mean something more personal to its recipient, sitting down and purposely choosing an LP, placing it carefully on the turntable, moving the arm into place and watching the black grooves spin into motion, carrying to your ears crackling bits of stereo (or mono) goodness makes music an activity again.
Besides the consumers of vinyl, the makers of music have also enjoyed the rebirth of the dated medium. A band who I enjoy immensely recently released a sixth studio album and enjoyed a massive surge in the sale of the vinyl version.
Brooklyn-based indie rockers (and slightly pretentious hipsters) The National released "Trouble Will Find Me" and saw 7,000 copies in vinyl album sales in the first week.
And according to the New York Times, New York indie rockers Vampire Weekend topped that with 10,000 LP sales in the first week of their third studio album "Modern Vampires of the City". Which is good, because I hear they were running out of collared shirt/old man sweater/Sperry combinations.
In the Nielsen Company & Billboard's 2012 Music Industry Report, it was stated that, "In 2012, vinyl album sales reached 4.6 million in sales ... 67 percent of all vinyl albums were purchased at an independent music store ... vinyl album sales in 2012 were up 19 percent compared to 2011."
According to the same report, the top albums sold in the United States on vinyl in 2012 were "Blunderbuss" by Jack White, "Abbey Road" by The Beatles, "Babel" By Mumford and Sons, "El Camino" by The Black Keys, "Sigh No More" By Mumford and Sons, "Bloom" by Beach House, "For Emma Forever Ago" by Bon Iver, "Boys & Girls" by Alabama Shakes, "21" By Adele and "Bon Iver" By Bon Iver.
While all of these wonderful stats bring some empirical evidence to what is obvious to anyone who has ventured into a record store, this does not account for everything.
Some of the best avenues to finding good records, besides the local independent record stores, are yard sales and thrift stores. Those sales are not accounted for in these reports.
So vinyl sales are up. We get it. No more stats.
While there isn't a lot of data to show who is buying these records, it would not be hard to imagine who has spurred the movement. Young, New York-style hipsters and their hippie parents have probably been at the center of this latest fad with their debilitating disease of being too cool.
It seems this trend has gone hand in hand with several of the latest voyages of popular society into the rural American past. I suppose we have developed a love of things pre-Internet, while we use the internet for everything. Perhaps it keeps us from becoming robots, or maybe these trends remind us that not everything can be saved on a hard drive.
When I desire some genuine connection to music that cannot be found in a digital reproduction or a live show, I find myself completely enthralled with the idea of listening to music as an activity, and vinyl provides me with a very satisfying activity.
Here's what some of my friends (random non-celebrity people) had to say on the subject:
"Another thing I love about vinyl is that, since we are dragging a needle across it, each time we listen to it, we slowly destroy it. Vinyl is something that demands our work for our enjoyment, and in the process, destroys itself for our love?"
Stephen Wells, a media artist in Knoxville, Tenn. Women love him, doctors hate him.
"For some reason, it's the only medium where I'm not putting it on to ignore it. I often worry that a mobile tech culture has relegated music to background noise while we work, while we drive, while we run. If I put on vinyl, I'm committed to listening to it (usually on the weekend with a cup of coffee or something.) So now music is a leisure activity in itself again."
David Tull, an E-commerce manager and theatr artist in Chicago.
"Main thing is that CDs have no object quality, no aesthetic value. Since everything is downloadable, buying music is pretty much purely an aesthetic experience, and vinyl fits that need, for when I want to go to a small, well-curated shop and be surprised."
Andy Stallings, who teaches poetry at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans.
"I love the act of listening to records - placing the physical record on the turntable, dropping the needle, poring over the liner notes and album art. It's so different than streaming and is the only medium I feel I have a real physical connection with the music. I can sit down and pour a drink and just listen, take time to hear it beginning to end, no skips, no repeats, as intended. I love streaming to discover new music, but I always try to make a point to follow up and purchase the records I love to support the artist and fully appreciate the work."
Anna Chandler, who performs in Savannah-based bands Lovely Locks, COEDS and Sweet Thunder Strolling Band. She also writes about music for the web and print.
Joshua Peacock is a writer and musician. He has been involved in music since the age of 5 and studied music theory, jazz and playwriting at the University of Iowa. When not enjoying live music, he works at Savannah State. Dr. Peacock is the reigning Pinkie's trivia king, in dreams alone. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @empiricalsound.