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In a world of digital streaming services, easy uploading and the ability to listen to music everywhere, the appeal of vinyl records is something of a surprise. When you could literally carry your entire music collection in your pocket, why would you want a record?
This year, Deloitte Global predicts that “vinyl records and related accessories will generate approximately $1 billion globally in revenue for the first time this millennium”. This is a huge number for what is surely such a niche product. So what can possibly be driving such a demand for a seemingly obsolete technology?
There is some argument that nostalgia has something to do with it. We tend to romanticize our youth and look back with rose tinted glasses. It’s reasonable to assume that those brought up with record players would buy into the revival of the technology as part of their nostalgia.
Records aren’t the only technologies making a recent comeback. In the age of Instagram, the classic Polaroid camera is also back and appealing to consumers with its retro instant print pictures. And in many cases, these products aren’t just appealing to those who had them originally, they are also appealing to younger audiences too, younger consumers who didn’t even have the technology when they were growing up.
It seems that nostalgia is only a part of the explanation. The thing is, that digital technologies may give us more in virtual storage space, but analog technologies are much more tactile. The feel and smell of a paperback are often given as reasons for reading a paper book instead of an e-book. There is just something about holding an object in your hands that makes it more appealing to us. It’s difficult to imagine your full music library on your iPod, but you could easily comprehend a full case of records.
Another idea is that older music is simply better than modern music and, since it was recorded to be played on a record player it makes sense to use that original medium. Whether you believe this or not, and you can now find all sorts of modern music on record too, the idea of the record player being superior certainly resonates with some music lovers.
How could this get better for modern music fanatics? Well, the obvious answer is in the combination of old and new to create the very best turntables. This combination of old and new has meant that the cost of turntables and records has come down. You can buy the best record player under 200!
Whether you are nostalgic for paper books, Polaroid cameras or a record player you didn’t even grow up with, it is fair to say that these technologies were unfairly termed obsolete. Just as the pre-sliced white loaf didn’t completely eclipse the simple soda bread (which is now regarded as an artisan product), these technologies retain an appeal that we can’t simply describe as nostalgia. There is something else there too.
Now is the time to start adding to your collection.