Last week Apple made headlines by releasing a brand new U2 album, free of charge and exclusive to iTunes. This announcement had many people scrambling to download, but it had me asking, “Where can I buy it on vinyl?”
As a child of the generation most notorious for illegally downloading music, otherwise known as the millennials, I’ve felt a disconnect in recent years with the concept of digital music.
Sure, I’ve loaded up my iPod with thousands of songs and hundreds of albums with the fervor of a level-ten hoarder. But it was during this time I realized I was losing touch with the albums themselves. Artists spend countless hours composing and recording music to be cherished by the fans who adore their work. As listeners, don’t we owe them our support?
I purchased my first vinyl record as simply a memorabilia piece. It was a limited edition copy of The Gaslight Anthem’s 2012 release, “Handwritten” pressed on blue vinyl. I didn’t own a record player at the time, this LP was meant to act as decor and nothing more.
As the weeks passed I just couldn’t stop visiting the local record store in search of more of these rare, colored vinyl gems. Soon after, I had filled my bedroom walls with many of these hot pressed masterpieces. I was in awe of the care and detail artists put into their vinyl releases. If the recording medium of vinyl is on life support, why do these artists care so much about it?
Vinyl records cost substantially more money than a music download, even more than a CD. An average factory sealed vinyl record can cost between $25 to $35. As the idiom goes, you get what you pay for so artists and music publishers know that consumers of vinyl records are in search of something more with their music experience. That’s why many new release vinyl albums include exclusive extras like MP3 download codes, posters and stickers and extra 7-inch bonus tracks. Albums may often be pressed into special colored or pictured vinyl and include special etchings or one-of-a-kind inscriptions, sometimes from the band members themselves.
In my opinion, vinyl has a superior quality to the average MP3. Vinyl’s warm presence, rode on soft crackling waves of gorgeous shimmering black, brings a musical experience rarely seen in this generation. Listening to vinyl music is like sitting on the beach alone with your favorite band performing just for you. Vinyl music provides a very personal and physical listening experience.
From digging through the record store crates in search of your next album, to flipping that disc and dropping the needle into those precision grooves, vinyl records bring meaning back to the forefront of music listening.
The vinyl revival in the music industry is more than a hipster craze, it’s a rebirth of a recorded medium. Music can be delivered to the listener in many ways, a preference which is entirely up to the consumer.
Buying music on vinyl is not a protest to illegal downloading, nor is it a ploy by the collector to be superior by way of some nostalgic ego. It is simply another way to experience more meaning with your music. It has changed the way I view and experience my favorite artists and has introduced me to new ones. Vinyl music is a new, old way to appreciate analog in this digital world.