Record Store Day, celebrated Saturday, drew music fans from all over the country to their local record stores to promote vinyl records and cassette tapes.
Collecting and listening to vinyl records has been a long-standing tradition for music fans and the cultural aesthetics have seen an increase in popularity over the last decade among younger listeners.
Is this outpouring of support a result of capitalist schemes devised by record companies, or is genuine appreciation of music production driving the sale of LPs and cassettes?
A&E columnists Nina Crosby and Roberto Luna Jr. debate the validity of vinyl and cassette revival in this week’s “Love | Hate.”
Burger Records totally transformed how I listen to music.
I always mocked vinyl and cassette tape purists who boldly proclaim that a 12-inch record is the only way to hear “real music.” Yeah, my grandfather had praised vinyl records and my brother’s dorm was littered with Toro y Moi and Frank Ocean 45s, but it didn’t hit me until I stumbled upon the Fullerton Burger Records store and fell in love. The moment I played back my “FIDLAR” LP, I knew I was a committed vinyl revivalist.
There really is something special about loading up a 7-inch record and experiencing a song for the first time. A connection is formed in caring for and collecting vinyl records and cassette tapes that can’t be matched elsewhere. The revival of vinyl aestheticism has emerged within the last 10 years and a subcultural movement has flooded pop culture with a demand for albums to be pressed and distributed.
Burger Records, Amoeba Music and Permanent Records LA are among LA stores catering to the revival. Even Urban Outfitters has taken up stocking records along their shelves, reestablishing vinyl in youth culture.
With a warm sound quality that hits your soul and a nostalgic reverence in the movement, vinyl and cassettes have also encouraged the emphasis on turntable DJing. More than just a collector’s item or a hipster’s claim to fame, records forge the relationship between musician and listener. LPs are an intergenerational, time-traveling vehicle that allow people an intimacy with music through discovering new ways to experience a song.
Don’t let the purist stereotype misconstrue vinyl culture with assumed pretension. Genuine, casual listeners have come out in droves to celebrate the magic of cassette and vinyl. There’s nothing like discovering a new artist in a chaotic pile of LPs or finally finding a rare single in a carefully curated music store.
Let the romance of finding that next rad record lead you to your nearest record store. Pop in that cassette, plug in your headphones and fall in love.
- Nina Crosby
I was in Urban Outfitters on Valentine’s Day this year when I saw them: all the latest albums on vinyl records and cassettes. I was shocked to see that the medium had returned and I was tempted to buy my favorite Eminem album. But then I thought to myself, why?
Listening to music has never been easier. I pay $9.99 a month for a Google Play Music subscription and I can listen to any song I like on my laptop or phone. Add in $20 headphones, or really any wireless speaker, and I’m in business.
I don’t want to pay for music twice and I definitely don’t want to pay for music that I will only be able to listen to when I’m in my room or at home. In terms of accessibility and practicality, records have no place in today’s world.
Companies are using this resurgence as a means for capitalist gains – introducing, or in this case reintroducing, outdated means for people to listen to music. It is a gimmick that works: nearly 12 million vinyl records were sold in 2015 alone.
Vinyl records are mass produced, similarly to digital songs, so I don’t see how it “makes people more connected with the music.” Vinyls today are made with the intention of making people feel nostalgic, so there is nothing organic or thoughtful about vinyl records produced in 2016.
Vinyl records were indeed an important part of music history, but times have changed. After them came cassettes and CDs; and now we have digital music. Music should become more and more portable, so vinyl records and cassettes are counterintuitive in that regard.
There are millions of songs on Google Play, Spotify and Apple Music, from thousands of artists. Having all those songs at my disposal provides a better experience than having a plastic 7-inch record with only 10 or so songs that I paid $20 for.
On the way home from Urban Outfitters that day, I took out my phone and listened to The Marshall Mathers LP, without a hitch or snag.
-Roberto Luna Jr.