Vinyl making a comeback among younger generation

Jamie Shearer

Vinyl record sales have been increasing for the past four years, and Peter Freeman, owner of The Vinyl Underground in downtown Kent, isn’t surprised.

Record sales increased 89 percent between 2007 and 2008, almost 33 percent between 2008 and 2009 and 9 percent for the first half of 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“I saw it coming,” Freeman said. “I’m in that in-between crowd of old collectors and new collectors, so I’ve always been collecting, and I’ve kind of seen it come about.”

The 30 year old grew up in a family that collected vinyl, and when he was about 8 years old, he started going to flea markets and yard sales to find records.

“That was the CD era, so people were dumping their record collections for pennies on the dollar ‘cause they were upgrading everything to CD,” he said. “And now many of those people are kicking themselves in the butt.”

According to a Nielsen SoundScan report, CD sales have dropped almost 18 percent during the first half of the year.

Even though Freeman hasn’t looked at his sales numbers for the year, he said he thinks business is steadily increasing.

Phil Peachock, owner of Spin-More Records in downtown Kent, said there’s been highs and lows during the 30 years he’s been in business, but there’s definitely been a resurgence of vinyl LPs. He noted some of the popular ones include The Beatles, The Ramones and Bob Dylan.

According to Nielsen, The Beatles and Bob Dylan both ranked in the top ten selling vinyl records of 2009 at 38,800 and 24,500 copies sold, respectively.

The Exchange manager Randall Law said he’s noticed younger people buying more vinyl.

“I think just in the time I’ve been here, it seems like a lot more college students have been looking for vinyl now than in the past,” he said.

Law and Freeman both attribute some of vinyl’s new popularity to collectability.

“You get a tangible product as compared to MP3s or whatever,” Freeman said. “You get something that you have ownership of, and you can’t really trade in MP3s. Vinyl retains value to an extent and sometimes appreciates in value, so it’s somewhat of an investment.”

But vinyl records aren’t just for anybody, he said.

“Vinyl is more for people who actually want to sit down and experience their music,” Freeman said. “You know, have the patience to flip the record and put different records on.”

Digital music still dominates the market. It accounted for 40 percent of music purchases in 2009, and there were more than 1.2 billion digital track and album sales combined, according to Nielsen reports.

But going digital isn’t for everybody, either.

Contact Jamie Shearer at [email protected].

“I have an iPhone, and I have no songs on it,” Freeman said. “So that tells you that.”