It’s no secret that music sales have seen a dip in recent years. This is especially the case when it comes to albums. Unless your Taylor Swift, artists struggle to get albums sold and as a result more emphasis has been put on singles. Another reason singles have been getting more emphasis than albums is streaming is now the most popular way listeners consume music. In 2014, on-demand streaming, both video and audio, was up 54%. This was no surprise to me. What was a big surprise to me however was the other format that experienced a gain in 2014: vinyl. What? People still listen to vinyl I thought? Indeed they do as vinyl experienced a gain of 54% in sales in 2014. In 2014, 9.2 million vinyl was sold compared to 2013 when 6.1 million vinyl was sold. These were the only two format to experience gains in sales. Digital album sales and digital song sales were both down 9% and 12% respectively.
As a 22-year-old person, I only remember back to cassettes being a thing. And that was when I was really young. For the majority of my life music was consumed either via CD or through digital means. With vinyl experiencing its highest sales since 1991 (Soundtrack started tracking sales then), this resurgence both perplexed me and intrigued me. In an age where digital music was right at your finger tips I didn’t see the need for vinyl. I chalked this up to just hipsters being hipsters and told myself to just move on. But I couldn’t do that. I found myself still intrigued as to why people love vinyl. I noticed a lot of the artists I listen to put their music out in vinyl too. For me this was a strange and new format.
Now being a history buff I was well aware of vinyl and how it was the way music was put out decades before. I worked briefly with vinyl as a radio DJ at my alma mater. When I say it briefly I mean one time and then never again. It was so much easier just queuing everything up digitally. Even CDs were much easier to work with than vinyl. By the way kudos to DJs back in the 60s and 70s who had to spin vinyl on the radio. That wasn’t easy work. So the point is that was the only taste of vinyl I had in my life up to this point.
I began to research online about why people love vinyl and why people have begun collecting it again. The most common reasons I came across were the sound quality, actually owning the music and the album format. Nostalgia was another reason listed, but obviously that couldn’t apply to me. The sound quality reason is a pretty hotly debated topic among audiophiles and casual listeners. Some people swear up and down that the sound of vinyl is much better than the sound of digital. Others say the exact opposite. As for my take, it depends on a variety of factors, but mainly it comes down to the vinyl pressing quality and the quality of the device you play it on. For the most part though, I don’t sense a huge difference between the sound on digital and the sound on vinyl. Your experience may vary.
The other two reasons certainly appealed to me. As I’ve said numerous times here on Country Perspective, I’ve found myself buying more albums than singles now. I used to just buy singles solely, but now I hardly ever buy singles. It’s made me understand why Garth Brooks wants his music not to be sold individually. Most true artists want you to listen to the whole album and really you should have to listen to a whole album to understand a song. A perfect example of this is Kendrick Lamar’s new album To Pimp A Butterfly. Each song tells a different part of the story being told and you have to listen to it from beginning to end to fully grasp it. As for owning the music, I’ve always been strictly against stealing music online. I’ve always bought my music legally. But buying it digitally certainly isn’t the same as buying a physical album. It’s just another file on your computer.
So with this all in mind I dove into the world of vinyl. I only bought two albums at first to make sure I enjoyed the format enough to continue my collection. I made sure to buy two albums I love too, as they could always be nice collectibles. The first two vinyl I ever bought were Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and AC/DC’s Back in Black. Now you know how much I love Sturgill’s album, as it was Country Perspective’s 2014 Album of the Year. Back in Black to me is one of the best rock albums ever. Each song is simply great and it’s an album I can put on and listen to anytime, anywhere and enjoy it. Soon I bought another one. Then a couple more. Before I knew it I had myself a growing collection. Now I’m kind of addicted to vinyl. It’s crazy.
Why do I love this crazy format? Well more than anything it combines two of my favorite pastimes: listening to music and collecting stuff. From an early age I’ve always like to collect stuff from rocks (not my dumbest collection idea) to books to baseball cards (this is dumber than collecting rocks). I’ve also always liked looking at album cover art and the writing credits, things that are more emphasized in vinyl covers. Another pro of vinyl collecting today compared to yesteryear is most come with a CD and/or digital download copy of the album. You get two, possibly three formats, for the price of one. That’s a pretty good deal to me. And no it’s not just hipsters buying vinyl nor are you a hipster for buying vinyl. It’s a niche hobby for people who have a great passion for music for the most part (there are some hipsters, but they’re avoidable). Digital is still my main format, but vinyl certainly has a place in my heart now too. It’s made me have a greater appreciation for music and I look forward to growing my collection even bigger.
If you’re interested in getting into vinyl too feel free to reach out and I would be happy to answer any questions. There are also many great forums across the Internet that will answer your questions. Also don’t forget that Record Store Day is this Saturday! You can find out more information on that here. One more thing: For those wondering, this is my favorite vinyl record for multiple reasons:
Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases
- Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers will release their new collaborative album Hold My Beer next Monday. You can order the album at this link. I’m pretty excited about hearing this one, as everything I’ve heard from it so far has been great. Two talents like Bowen and Rogers getting together for an album is something that doesn’t happen too often. I’ll definitely have a review on this one.
- Texas country artist John Moreland will release his new album High Tulsa Heat next Tuesday. This is another album I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about and as someone who isn’t real familiar with Moreland’s work, I’m intrigued to give it a listen.
- I think next week is Texas country release week. William Clark Green is also coming out with a new album next Tuesday and it’s titled Ringling Road. I’ve seen a lot of critics praise this one too. Can next week get here already?
- The only mainstream release slated for next week is Brett Eldredge’s new single “Lose My Mind.”
Throwback Thursday Song
Sunny Sweeney – “From A Table Away” – I heard this song come on my local radio station this past week and forgot how great this song is. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear it on the radio. Why Kelsea Ballerini is on the radio and not Sweeney is beyond comprehension. Well I actually know why. But still Sweeney rocks and blows most on the radio away.
Non-Country Song of the Week
Sam Cooke – “Chain Gang” – You know that funky, upbeat sound of Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn”? He ripped it off from Cooke’s “Chain Gang,” which is a way better song. Just give it a listen. It sounds exactly the same as the rhythm of “Chain Gang.” If I’m in charge of Cooke’s estate, I would be working on a law suit plan right now.
Tweet of the Week
You hear that Cole Swindell and Chase Rice? You’re creeps. Listen to Lindi Ortega.
Two iTunes Reviews That Will Make You Face Palm
Double the stupidity this week! These were both left under Thomas Rhett’s new single “Crash and Burn.” Apparently the first reviewer has never heard any of Rhett’s music that preceded his latest single. The second reviewer is just a moron. When Rhett’s career crashes and burns I hope he takes these two fans with him.
Schedule Note: There will not be a past pulse post this week. Between the large amount of album releases and covering the 50th ACM Awards, I just didn’t have time to do one this week. It’ll return next week. However I have a review coming out tomorrow of one of my favorite country albums of 2015 you don’t want to miss.
That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments!