Take a look around a modern-day teenager’s room, and there is something you will quickly notice – vintage is back. From high-waist jeans to analog… well, everything, the novelty of days gone by has made a roaring comeback in the lives of younger Millenials and Generation Z.
What is to blame for this fascinating phenomenon? Perhaps years of overexposure to the always plugged and nonstop noise of the digital landscape has caused many people to flee to simpler times. Or maybe blame extended stay-at-home orders throughout the first half of the year leading teenagers and children to raid their parent’s attics or basements for their antique treasures. Regardless of the reason, a newfound interest in analog culture has offered a unique comeback opportunity for many of our favorite old tech – none less so than the humble vintage record player.
The Story & Song Of The Record Player
Ahh… the vinyl age. A time when you would waste hours of your day flipping through album stacks, gazing at the intricate cover art to find a new song to fall in love with. None of these wireless headphone-wearing zombies chained to their mobile phones. No, in these days to listen to music was a communal activity – the living room record player being a place where family and friends would gather to listen to the full album from the latest hitmaker.
While the container that held the vinyl album itself was unique, the giant vinyl record inside was a sight to behold. Inside these masterful works of art was a round, flat object made of vinyl – a synthetic plastic known in the industry as “polyvinyl chloride.” Created from crude oil ethylene and chlorine, the vinyl record came to popularity as a recording device in the 1900s plastic boom.
Once you had a vinyl record, you needed something to access the music recorded on them! Enter the vintage record player – something you may have seen in your grandmother’s back room. The 1950s saw the boom of artists such as Elvis Presley and Bill Haley, and with them the rise of the Dansette record player. Manufactured around 1955, the Dansette was a favorite of many music fans, and a valuable collector’s item today.
Also known as a “gramophone”, these record players made use of an arm that would ride the album to play the music recorded into the vinyl. From the Dansette model came the Champion Stereo record player in the 1960s. The Champion took the Dansette style and added the portability (though, still quite heavy) and allowed users to stack up to five singles and play them one after the other.
Over time, the record player would hold the throne of music players until the advent of the 8-track and CD. As the digital sun rose on the horizon, all physical music players would see their sales obliterated by the digital MP3. The beloved record player would find itself gathering dust as music listeners traded vinyl for portable devices and headphones.
The Vinyl Record Makes a Comeback
While the digital age of the MP3 may have left a fatal wound in the vinyl industry, a resurrection was waiting to take place. As music fans began to rejoice at the rise in streaming audio services such as iTunes, Napster, and Spotify, musicians and producers began to move away from creating full-length albums and focused on the creation of radio-ready singles. The goal? As many singles as you can make – the rest of the album is just fluff to constitute publication as an “album release.”
Even as singles grew in popularity and online music subscriptions rose, true music aficionados held firm to their love for the vinyl album… and the music world began to notice. Before long, artists began to release their new albums on vinyl as record players staged their comeback as objects of nostalgia. In 2008, a study from Forbes Magazine noted that the sales of LPs rose for the first time since 1984 – by nearly 84%! From 2008 record players have returned to homes, and LP sales have been recorded at 9.7 million units sold in 2018. Don’t call it a comeback!
Need some more proof as to why you should consider breaking out your old record player – or perhaps buy a vintage player from an online distributor? Here are four great reasons why you should give your vintage record player a shot:
1. It Just Looks Cool!
The first reason is the vintage-look factor. A record player – even the large gramophone style of the 1950s is no longer an awkward appliance from your grandfather’s living room. The latest in hipster classic style is seeing record players placed in common areas of homes where LPs can be played through to provide background music throughout the home. Imagine wowing your friends at your next party with a classic, restored vintage record player rocking the latest hits?
2. You’ll Discover A New Hobby – Real Music Fandom
There is something unique about buying vinyl records. Instead of hopping on a streaming service or YouTube to listen to a specific song (full of advertisements, by the way), imagine going to your local record store and allowing the owner to walk you through the history of some of the industry’s greatest artists and records? As you flip through a room lined wall-to-wall with albums, you are sure to discover your next favorite listen – and every album is ad-free!!
3. Vinyl Just Sounds Better
Ask anyone who regularly uses their vintage record player – music just sounds better when played on vinyl. Part of the reason may be personal preference, but there is also a quality issue at hand. When songs are recorded digitally, they are often edited and exported in a “lossy format” which allows for the song to take up as little space as necessary online and in MP3 players. When formatted this way, the song loses elements of its quality. On a vinyl, each song lives in its full quality on the record, allowing for a true listening experience! Give it a listen, and see the difference that your favorite song on vinyl makes!
4. You Join A True Audiophile Community
While anyone can listen to an MP3 or stream music online, there is nothing quite like the vinyl record community. An entire network of music fans, spanning generations, have come together to help each other find the latest and greatest music to listen to on their vintage record players. When you decide to start listening to music on a vinyl player, you will join the ranks of a unique community that understands what true music sounds like. From sharing albums, tips on how to maintain record players from all years, and discovering new music, you’ve never experienced a community like the vintage record player village!
Are YOU Ready To Join The Vintage Movement?
The first step to discovering (or rediscovering) the love for vintage record players is to purchase one, set it up, grab your favorite album, and listen away! There are numerous online retailers and vintage sellers who specialize in restoring and selling vintage record players from all decades – even back to the original versions from the 1950s and 60s. Discover a new way to listen to music today, and learn why so many are leaving digital in the dust and breaking out the record player!