Is vinyl starting to lose its groove? Despite the statistical comeback of record sales, Ottawa storeowners are still in search of the acclaimed youth-led resurgence.

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.

"Bringing the medium back and the problems with that, has made vinyl become much more expensive."

"As the future unfolds, vinyl will become more and more accessible, and maybe a bit cheaper, and more people may get into it. Then I can stop spending $30 for a two sided record," he added.

He then referenced the newly released Childish Gambino album, which is set to breach the market at the price of $58. A price that Max, and other customers are just not willing to spend.

On one hand of the spectrum stand Max and many others who are unimpressed with the increasingly harsh price tag on records. On the other, stand the corporations who have seen the increase in popularity as a golden opportunity to make money.

Big Business Means Big Corporations, Too.

Vinyl was once a medium dominated by independent record stores across the country however, that may not be the case anymore.

Large corporations such as the clothing franchise, Urban Outfitters have jumped in on the new wave, selling records for a very demanding price. As a result, they are proving tough competition for the independent shops, only adding to the frustrations of storeowners in Ottawa.

“Records are getting even more expensive, the cost is getting ridiculously high, and it’s being fuelled by the greedy bastards from music label,” stated owner John Westhaver.

“Why is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon sixty fucking dollars at a clothing store?”

According to Jason Vaughn, who works alongside Westhaver at Birdman Sound, the true culprit behind the lack of vinyl sales is not the large corporations but rather, popular culture itself.

Vaughn stems from the theory that popular music represents a lack of creative thinking. He believes that younger people don’t have the time of day to buy records outside their comfort zone. Resulting in more downloading, and less needle dropping.

“Our difficulty is getting younger people that want to use critical thinking to participate on a level that is not their own.”

“…Our culture is easy,” he added.

Despite the global increase in sales, and the recurring theme of optimism amongst the multitude of news coverage, many independent record shops still haven’t recovered from the digital takeover.

With independent stores like Birdman and Compact battling the increasing prices and decreasing customers, for the record, these shops have seen better days.

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