Record enthusiast enthused by comeback
NILES, Mich. — “I don’t play anything in my house but vinyl.”
Local musician Tom Moore is not adverse to the listening options of the digital age. While on the go, he will bring along an iPod or other digital device for portable listening. He keeps CDs around for his car. At his house, however, the speakers are only projecting music from his record collection.
We were recently discussing the world of vinyl after Tom had come into possession of a large record collection left to him after the passing of his friend, Neil Raby. He recalled tales of venturing out with Neil to store after store so they could both add to their libraries. His friend would pick up an album based on as little as an interesting musician name or attractive album cover. Together, they would explore genres and expand their tastes, leading to a library that is today full of stories.
“I absolutely love it,” Tom said. “The ritual, there’s something about it that’s so special to me, pulling the record out of the sleeve, cleaning them, the turntable. And there’s nothing like the sound of vinyl.”
After collecting for so long, Tom is pleased to see the resurgence of the format. He remembers coming home to find his teenage daughter sitting by his turntable with records spread out around her. Now she has a record player of her own and regularly plays vinyl.
“She caught the bug,” he said, recalling his daughter and her friends digging into his collection. “That was very heartwarming to witness.”
Matt Shaver, the owner of Niles record store Rumor Has It, is also pleased with the renewed popularity of vinyl. He has purchased and sold records for many years, maintaining a store front for the last five years. He pointed out to me that during the 2015 holiday season, turntables were the number one home audio item sold on Amazon.com and was one of the top-selling of all products.
“Tables being sold means records being eaten up,” he said.
He says that high schoolers and young kids account for nearly half of his business now.
“They’re buying everything. They’ll get some swing music, they’ll get Sinatra. They’re just trying to build their collection and find fun music.”
He credits the physical experience of records for a large part of the resurgence. Customers are able to take home a tangible product with liner notes, cover art and photography included. New albums released on vinyl will often include a poster and typically offer a free digital download of the same music, giving listeners the convenience of the modern age coupled with the hands-on experience.
We discussed the adventure of the hunt for older records. He described customers coming in and spending hours digging through his selection of used vinyl, often bonding with each other and telling stories of where and when they found a long sought album. I related it to my own experience as a comic book collector, knowing that I could find any item on my wishlist on the Internet, but waiting for the fun of going to stores and conventions to dig through the collections.
“If they can find what they’re looking for during the search, that’s much more satisfying than buying on Amazon,” Matt said.
Matt works to keep his used collection constantly revolving for his customers. He also works to bring in new music on vinyl that is not as widely available, knowing that fans of independent music, punk rock and other less radio friendly genres are always in need for a place to buy their music.
He, along with record stores across the nation, will be working hard to create a special experience this Saturday, April 16, for the successful annual event, Record Store Day. Exclusive artist releases, special editions and in-store events will highlight the growing vinyl culture. In its ninth year, this celebration of music and independent record stores continues to grow. More than a single event, Record Store Day has become an important piece in a movement to revive a love for a deep music experience, with promotion and support continuing throughout the entire year.
You can find more information on Record Store Day, including a list of this Saturday’s exclusive releases, at RecordStoreDay.com. Matt keeps customers up-to-date on new released, promotions, and live events for Rumor Has It at facebook.com/RumorStore. You can keep up with the latest music from Tom Moore by visiting facebook.com/TheMooreBrothers
Justin Flagel is the founder of the web magazine and podcast Anywhere the Needle Drops, where he and others showcase their interest in music, pop culture, creativity and life. Follow their work at anywheretheneedledrops.com. Feedback can be directed to email@example.com.