By Chris Ramos
Anxious hands remove the record from its sleeve, as it is carefully placed unto the turntable. These anxious hands proceed to place the needle atop the record, caressing the groove. The listener sits down, examining the twelve by twelve inch LP cover. The ritual lives on.
Back in the day, the cover of an LP along with pictures/notes served as the only glimpse of a band. (Unless you attended a live performance, of course)
However, that aspect of listening to music along with vinyl records themselves began to decay as CD’s entered the market. Adding insult to injury, digital music comes to fruition, making music easier than ever to acquire. Pictures and lyrics can be searched online, rendering those lyric sheets and pictures of an LP as an afterthought. Vinyl is on the ropes and the lights are dim, but the towel will not be thrown. Good, because it has regained its foothold within the public.
According to an article written by Hannah-Ellis Petersen of The Guardian;
“Sales of vinyl in 2016 reached a 25-year high as consumers young and old have once again embraced physical formats of music.
More than 3.2m LPs were sold last year, a rise of 53% on last year and the highest number since 1991 when Simply Red’s Stars was the bestselling album. This was also the first year that spending on vinyl outstripped that spent on digital downloads.”
Coupled with this, a BPI report stated that CD’s declined eleven percent. While the RIAA reports that CD sales were down seventeen percent in 2015, as vinyl records went up thirty two perecent.
Now, that’s what I’m talking about. As I approached this topic, I wanted to become engaged with it as much as I could, so I decided to visit The Vinyl Groove in Bedford, Ohio.
All Photos By Chris Ramos
The Vinyl Groove has been up and running for three years, seeing business increase every year. I was fortunate enough to speak with Dave (the owner) and Sammy (employee), about the store and their passion regarding records. Of course, I couldn’t resist making a few purchases along the way.
“The market for records has always been around” says Dave, as he emphasized the crowd of record collectors who have stayed loyal.
Dave, who is forty-two, has been collecting records since he was ten. Quite the feat, and to be honest, his love for music is evident. He’s what I’d like to call; A Seasoned Vet. Not to mention, he was more than willing to answer any questions, making a young chap like myself feel comfortable. When he was asked about the average age of people coming into his store, he stated that:
“On a monthly basis, it’s split down the middle. Just a few days ago, I had a girl buying records as a gift for her boyfriend.”
Upon entering The Vinyl Groove, one can find themselves in awe at the vibrant pictures and posters that align the walls. The selection is great, and any customer who is interested in a specific record which is currently out of stock, can have the shop order it for them.
“Rock is our most popular genre, as you can see.” stated Sammy as he pointed to the largest section of the store.
“I’d say R&B is the next big one.”
Sammy, a friendly young man, told me that he had been collecting for a few years now. His favorite part about working at the store was the fact that they can pull out any record and play it on the turntable that sits upon the checkout counter, giving rise to a lively atmosphere.
As I was being checked out by Sammy, a gentleman to my left brought in a hefty box of records which Dave eagerly inspected. This amiable gentleman looked at me and my friend Ryan, greeting us with a smile. He was ecstatic to hear my intentions of starting a record collection of my own, and recalled the days of his youth when he would spend his paychecks on records. He, along with Dave, love to see a young crowd gravitate towards record shops. These social interactions are priceless.
For people who are interested in starting a collection, Dave says “Become good friends with your local record store.”
I capitalized on that advice, as I talked to Dave and Sammy for over an hour, assuring them that I’ll be back very soon. I strongly encourage you to come visit. The Vinyl Groove is located on 679 Broadway Ave in Bedford.
Observing this resurgence of vinyl records, we see the following factors:
Preference. Many listeners simply prefer the sound of vinyl as they describe it as being a warmer sound to the ears, and the occasional pops make the listening experience more rich.
Aesthetics. The artwork displayed on the front and back cover of an LP, along with artwork which may be present inside, induce fixated eyes. Posters, background notes and lyric sheets are icing on the cake, giving the listener an experience which digital and CD can’t offer. Removing a record from the sleeve and placing it upon a turntable is a ritual, as mentioned earlier, which builds up excitement. From the music to the images, tremendous creativity and effort go into the making of an LP.
Social Interactions. Referencing to my own experience earlier, you build a connection with people easily. Record stores offer a “passing of the torch”, as an older customer gives their two cents to the young teen who stumbled upon a Black Sabbath record. Music, as is true with all arts, can bring people together. A record store is a hub for music appreciation. Not to mention, events like Record Store Day bolster further support.
The Search. Finding that favorite record will carve out a smile upon your face quickly, especially after pursuing it for many days. Cross it off the list, and you’re on to the next one.
I’d also like to mention that listening to a record forces you to be attentive. Let’s say that you buy a record from a band which you aren’t familiar with (the aesthetics capitalized on your curiosity), you can’t just skip a track like you can on your iPhone. No, the record asks for you patience and to give the music a chance.
Personally speaking, after a long day of work, listening to a record transports me to a state of bliss. Starting a collection is one of the best initiatives I have ever taken, as my love for music grows stronger each day.
Whether you are into vinyl or not, it is here to stay. The ritual will continue on. Passionate souls, like Dave, will continue to influence fellow customers while providing a beacon for them. Parents will pass down their past. New releases will be available on vinyl. Another friendship will spark.
The Rising Sun. The Rising Vinyl.