Today’s world of purchasing music is completely different than it was in the 20th century.
Before music was available digitally, it was only available in its physical form as a CD, cassette tape or vinyl record.
Most millennials are obtaining their tunes from music apps like Spotify, Pandora or iTunes. However, there are music fans who still prefer to purchase albums in their physical form rather than the MP3 version.
With this shift in favor of digital music, it begs the question, can music stores keep up?
Physical music is making an impressive comeback. Cynics may believe that only hipsters still buy records, but they might be surprised to learn that vinyl records are selling in high quantities.
According to Fortune Magazine, in 2015, sales of vinyl records were up 32% to $416 million, their highest level since 1988.
Records are selling more now than they have in 28 years. One main factor in this resurgence goes to the new tradition of Record Store Day.
For the past nine years, the third Saturday in April is dedicated to the pursuit of buying music from local and independent record stores.
Hundreds of vinyl records are released on Record Store Day exclusive to to this music lovers’ holiday. Limited quantities are sold in the United States, and many of those albums will only be released on that day each year. Many stores also offer big discounts on Record Store Day to promote this new tradition.
Collectors flock to record stores hours before the doors open to ensure that they will be able to get these exclusive vinyl records.
Participating in Record Store Day, several of Utah’s stores dedicated to music have stood the test of time and continue to keep their customers satisfied.
One of these places is Graywhale, with four stores located in Ogden, Salt Lake City, Taylorsville and Sandy.
The first Graywhale opened its doors in 1986 in an old house next to the University of Utah. As their popularity continued, they opened more stores.
“I love Graywhale,” said Joe Passey, Graywhale customer. “This place has everything!”
Recently, a former employee of Graywhale opened up shop in Downtown Ogden, so now there is another option: Lavender Vinyl off of Historic 25th street.
Another music store that has pierced the pop culture mainstream is Salt Lake City’s Heavy Metal Shop.
With a niche clientele and a slogan that reads “Peddlin’ Evil since 1987,” the Heavy Metal Shop has been a staple of the Beehive State for almost 30 years.
“We’ve got all kinds of great stuff here,” said store owner Kevin Kirk. “We’ve got records and CDs, but we’ve also got tons of great shirts too.”
Members of the band Slayer have often been seen in performances wearing shirts from the Heavy Metal Shop and are themselves fans of the store.
If you’re new to buying physical music, options are available for you to explore the tangibility of records and CDs.
“My advice is don’t spend your money on therapy, spend it in a record store,” said German filmmaker Wim Wenders.