Why vinyls are the oldest, yet trendiest way to listen to music

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Key Takeaways

  • 90s-00s trends like wired headphones and low-rise jeans are back, and now vinyl records have made a resurgence, attracting the masses.
  • Vinyl sales soared in 2020 to 27.5 million units, with Taylor Swift leading the charge, with every 1 in 15 vinyl albums sold being hers.
  • Despite the cost, the nostalgic and peaceful feeling of putting on a vinyl album on a record player remains unmatched by other music formats.

It’s no secret that 90s-00s fashion and tech have made a major resurgence in pop culture today. From wired headphones to low-rise jeans, walking down the streets of New York, one might think they stepped into a time machine back to the year 2005. However, although using wired headphones may be making a comeback, Gen Z ditched bringing back cassettes for something even older: record players.

From wired headphones to low-rise jeans, walking down the streets of New York, one might think they stepped into a time machine back to the year 2005.

Vinyl records making a comeback isn’t something new. I remember asking for my first record player in eighth grade and my parents having the most confused reaction. Why would a 13-year-old want a record player?

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Now, 10 years later, I’m still buying the latest vinyl albums from my favorite artists to play on my Electrohome record player.

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Electrohome Kingston Record Player

Back track: The rise and fall of vinyl records

Vinyl records began being produced in the late 1800s, but didn’t truly reach their peak in popularity until the 1950s-1960s. The rise of rock’n’roll music along with younger people having more free time gave way to record companies mass-producing vinyl albums. This was way before TVs became commonplace, so turning on your record player and spinning your favorite vinyl was the only way you could drown out the noise of the world around you.

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Record sales peaked in the 1970s, accounting for nearly 66% of all music format revenues. However, as with anything, there will always be something newer and shinier to replace old technology and cassette players did just that. In the 80s and 90s cassette players along with compact discs (CDs) became the most popular way to listen to music.

The invention of cassettes, CDs, and digital streaming made record players obsolete. Well, until recently.

By the early 2000s, cassettes and CDs were outshone by the MP3 player, with digital music becoming the next best thing. According to Statista, in 2005 less than one million records were sold.

A Sony record player with an Elliott Smith record inside, with a Spruce Trap and Fontaines DC record on the side.

The invention of cassettes, CDs, and digital streaming made record players obsolete. Well, until recently.

Skip a beat: Vinyl’s making a comeback

Something crazy happened in 2020. If you were thinking about the rising vinyl sales, then you’re right. By the end of 2020, vinyl sales rose to 27.5 million units, seeing a 30% increase from the year prior. Since 2010, vinyls slowly became a bigger deal, with Tumblr users glorifying the “retro” aesthetic. However, the astronomical vinyl sales in 2020 proves that vinyls no longer attract just audiophiles or niche indie-band listeners, but now attract the masses.

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However, the astronomical vinyl sales in 2020 proves that vinyls no longer attract just audiophiles or niche indie-band listeners, but now attract the masses.

Nearly every artist now releases their latest albums on both vinyl and Spotify or Apple Music. In 2023, Americans purchased nearly 50 million vinyl records, a 14% jump from 2022. As with anything in the music industry recently, there’s one artist to thank for the rise of vinyl sales: Taylor Swift. Not surprisingly, Taylor Swift’s records accounted for every 1 in 15 vinyl albums sold in the U.S.

Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poet’s Department is being sold on three different edition vinyls next week.

In 2022, Taylor Swift accounted for every 1 in 25 vinyl sales. Which can only make me wonder how much of the vinyl record sales she’ll account for this year with the upcoming release of her album The Tortured Poet’s Department, which is being sold on three different special edition vinyls.

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Why vinyl will never go out of style

Ever since 2014, I’ve been listening to records on vinyl. I’ve always been a huge proponent of listening to music in a variety of formats, and there’s an undeniable sense of peace that comes with listening to albums on vinyl. Whether I’m writing, doing homework or simply trying to calm down at the end of the day, I love the feeling of putting my vinyl on the record player, dropping the needle and listening to my music play softly in the background.

Whether I’m writing, doing homework or simply trying to calm down at the end of the day, I love the feeling of putting my vinyl on the record player, dropping the needle and listening to my music play softly in the background.

The biggest downside of listening to music on vinyl is the cost. Vinyls are not cheap and neither are decent record players. When I first started getting into vinyl, I bought a $60 record player from Urban Outfitters thinking that would be fine. I mean $60 isn’t cheap either. However, several record players later, I learned that sometimes it pays to spend more money up front on a record player.

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I now use an Electrohome Kingston record player which includes a radio, Bluetooth speaker capabilities for when I want to play music from my phone and a 3.5mm jack for an auxiliary cord.

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I look forward to the day I can give my future children my copies of every Taylor Swift record on vinyl.

Despite the cost, there’s a sense of nostalgia that comes with listening to records on vinyl that other music formats don’t have. When I first began getting into vinyl, my grandpa gave me his old Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Billy Joel records. My uncle gave his vinyls of The Ramones and Green Day; plus every Christmas my parents get me a copy of their favorite artists on vinyl. I look forward to the day I can give my future children my copies of every Taylor Swift record on vinyl.

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