CMU vinyl collectors reflect on growing popularity of the analog format

As vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, collectors predict they will be the only analog format to last

Vinyl records stand at B's Music Shop in Mount Pleasant on Thursday, Nov. 8.

The younger generation is embracing old technology in the form of vinyl records. 

According to Nielsen, a global media measurement and data analytics provider, “vinyl records had a renaissance at retail by experiencing sales growth for the 12th consecutive year, comprising 14 percent of all physical album sales.”  

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl records had their heyday in the 70s and early 80s before being quickly replaced with compact discs and later, digitized audio.

The sales of vinyl records from 1979 to 2017, compiled by Recording Industry Association of America. 

They compiled a graph that shows the vinyl revival that began in the early 2010s.

In 2015, Rolling Stone recorded that the music industry saw the resurgence as more of a fad than an explosion, however, vinyl sales still continue to reach unexpected heights.

Jack White, founder of the Detroit garage rock duo The White Stripes and CEO of Third Man Records, said he believes vinyl will be the preferred format of casual listening. 

“Streaming in the car and kitchen, vinyl in the living room and the den. Those will be the two formats,” he said in a Rolling Stone interview.

The following Central Michigan University students share their reasons for collecting vinyl, opinions on how vinyl is being integrated into society and predictions for the future of music listening. 

Joe Pallozzi 

Collector since 2013 

Owns around 300 records 

Favorite Record: "The Dream is Over" by PUP 

Garden City senior Joe Pallozzi poses near his vinyl collection in his apartment on Friday, Nov. 30.

After receiving a small assortment of Alice Cooper albums from his father, Pallozzi began to foster a collection of vinyl records. He keeps his musical tastes broad, resulting in an expansive collection.

Pallozzi, a senior at CMU, said he can listen to everything from rap artist Tyler the Creator to Courtney Barnett, an Australian folk singer. When he’s not seeing his favorite artists live, Pallozzi spends hours in Dearborn Music, his favorite hometown record store. 

“People often have a place they go to when they have a lot on their minds," Pallozzi said. "For me, it’s Dearborn Music. It’s the best feeling.” 

Cherishing local record stores, like Dearborn music, is the mission statement of “Record Store Day.” Beginning in April, 2008, this annual trend brings together more than 1,400 independently owned stores that cooperate with record labels, large and small, to provide exclusive releases to hungry collectors. This is how Pallozzi scores his most prized records.

As the station manager for CMU's student-run radio station, WMHW, Pallozzi said he has a trained ear for audio quality and he said vinyl records hold the best listening experience. 

“It almost feels like the band is in the room playing the music,” Pallozzi said. “It just feels so much more alive.”  

Owen Brooks 

Collector since 2014 

Owns around 100 records 

Favorite Record: "Thunderball (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" by John Barry 

Dexter sophomore Owen Brookes poses in B's Music Shop in Mount Pleasant on Friday, Nov. 30.

Dexter sophomore Owen Brooks began his collection after inheriting a large amount of country records from a relative, but he favorites the work of modern electronic artists. 

Much like his favorite music, his record collecting habits incorporate technology. 

Brooks uses technology to get connected with the rest of the vinyl collecting community. 

Discogs is a crowd-sourced database for music, and a tool for vinyl collectors to catalog their music. It also serves as platform to buy, sell, and trade vinyl with thousands of users, much like eBay for records.

In addition, Brooks listens to music using streaming services, which he said plays a vital role in the resurgence of vinyl.

According to a report by CNBC, Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. Artists are able to bring in significantly more revenue by selling physical formats, according to the report.

“Physical music is important because it cannot be taken away from you,” Brooks said. “Spotify can easily take that music down.” 

By using streaming services to discover new artists and using online retail services like Discogs, Brooks marries old technology with the new. 

Nick Westendorp 

Collector since 2014 

Owns 30-40 records 

Favorite Record: "Correspondance" by Levi the Poet 

Grand Rapids sophomore Nick Westendorp poses with his favorite vinyl by Levi the Poet in his Troutman Hall on Friday, Nov. 30.

Grand Rapids sophomore Nick Westendorp said he feeds off the energetic nature of metal music to fuel his passion for running. 

Westendorp frequently browses Grandville’s Corner Record Shop to grow his collection of records, which features a significant amount of audio poetry. 

Westendorp predicts the vinyl comeback is here to stay.

“It will never die out as much as it did in the 90s and early 2000s,” he said. “I expect it to be the only analog format to remain popular” 

Opinion writers from Pitchfork, The Guardian and Billboard have similar predictions, however they all note that the nature of record collecting will be different than previous generations. Instead of buying records to discover new music, young adults will tend to buy records they already enjoy. 

"I buy records of from the bands I like the most," Westendorp said. "Because they're more expensive I think I'm supporting them more."

Where to find vinyl in Mount Pleasant

In response to the vinyl craving, Billboard reported famous retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Barns and Nobel and Target have begun stocking classic and contemporary music in vinyl form.  

Brian Hanson, owner and proprietor of B’s Music Shop in Mount Pleasant, quickly adapted to the record industry’s resurgence about two years ago. 

“One time ten people came in within an hour asking if we sell records,” Hanson said. “That’s when we decided it’s time to sell some vinyl.” 

Hanson said B’s Music Shop is the largest provider of vinyl in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding area. In order to cater to Mount Pleasant's wide range of clientele, Hanson asks for customer opinions on how to expand the inventory. The result is a mixture of contemporary indie phenomena and instantly recognizable classics that he sells at the store.

Hanson said he predicts the only music listening formats that will live forever are streaming and vinyl records.