A barely audible “excuse me” is heard while one customer calmly scurries past another, studiously flickering through the records they once adored. A euphoric wave of enjoyment shortly followed by a rapid double take on the steepened price tag results in a quick realization.
The apparent rejuvenation of vinyl that may have brought record collecting back into the spotlight may be more of a romanticized myth, than a sound reality.
Vinyl, once a defeated medium has made a triumphant comeback within the ever-evolving music world. The Record Industry Association of America has marked the revenue of vinyl at $416 million in 2015, the highest it has been since the year 1989.
More Downloading, Less Record Collecting.
At the forefront of vinyl’s “mighty” comeback stands the young, eagerly curious generation. They are dusting off their parents old turntables, purchasing records and giving life to the old shops that are fuming with excitement.
At least that’s what the statistics say anyway.
Long time independent record storeowner, John Westhaver begs to differ.
“Way back when I first opened in the 90’s. I had people lining up outside the door coming in from Glebe High, now I have literally zero high school students in here.”
“…I find that totally weird,” he added.
Westhaver, who has owned Birdman Sound, an independent record store on Bank Street, for almost three decades now has indubitably seen it all. Westhaver admittedly finds the rejuvenation statistics humorous, as the younger crowd has not yet breached his store.
Birdman Sound is located on 593 Bank Street.
A problem he mainly attributes to the exponentially increasing price of buying records.
“When I was a teenager, the actual list price for a record was under five bucks…Although everything is a lot cheaper back then, all of the sudden there is a recession every two years and people just don’t have money left.”
Westhaver admitted that they are still some younger people who grew up in the right household that are continuing to purchase records. Though for the most part, the youth led comeback is just not applicable for him.
“Students don’t have any money, let alone records,”
For the “lucky few” as Westhaver would put it, that are continuing to buy records despite the increased price, the willingness to purchase them, is slowly dwindling.
A trend that is quite noticeable down the street at Compact Music, a store much like Birdman Sound that has been around in the community for decades.
Tyler Clarke has been the store manager at Compact Music for the last ten years. He has witnessed vinyl’s mighty comeback and the unforeseen popularity that has come with it. Though, in the last two years the popularity he said is starting to slow down.
Compact Music is located on 206 Bank Street
“We’re levelling out because the prices have gone up while the dollar has gone down… paying $40 for a record, it’s getting kind of ridiculous.”
“Vinyl’s own demise could be its very own price,” he added.
The storeowners aren’t the only ones to note the sudden drawback in sales, as the once eager crowd of vinyl-goers have also started to take notice.
Nineteen-year-old Max Nease has been collecting records for the past three years. Max and the many others in his generation haven’t experienced the price increase; rather they have always associated vinyl with the considerable price tag. A trend that he is still has not become comfortable with.