Love for vinyl comes around — and around — again after sales spike

UPDATED: MARCH 17, 2023 AT 1:20 PM
KIRO Newsradio Anchor

New numbers from the Recording Industry Association show demand for vinyl records continues to increase, netting $1.2 billion in business last year.

And for the first time in 30 years, vinyl topped CDs in overall demand.

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Vinyl has a long history. The first commercially available vinyl long-playing record was released in the 1930s. Cassettes, compact discs, Mp3s, and streaming would follow, but it’s vinyl that’s grabbing a base of new fans.

“We have so much new stuff. It’s crazy how much new stuff,” said Kay Redden with Sonic Boom Records in Ballard.

“We’ve got the new Paramore [record], the new Steve Lacy, Beyonce, of course,” she said, walking among rows of new albums, reissued classics, and vintage original records, all on vinyl.

Aficionados will tell you the grooves on a vinyl record allow for a more open, resonant quality versus their digital counterparts. Redden described it as “warmth.”

“I think for me, personally, it’s a way to just ‘be’ with music and actually pay attention to what you’re listening to,” she added.

After all, a little more effort is required to pick a record, select a side, and carefully drop a needle on what you’d like to play.

Customer Devan Schupp agrees. He said that although he can access a lot of music on his phone, he prefers vinyl.

“You feel like you’re more in touch with the music,” he said. “When you get to hold a copy of it, and you can listen to it, flip it over, pick the song, put it on over and over again.”

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Schupp said he began collecting vinyl albums after receiving a record player as a gift. “My first record was Meet the Beatles.” He now owns more than 100 records that span several genres and decades.

But his favorites? “Sometimes, I’ll get old records that have the previous owner’s name on it, so I can think about how much they listened to it and how much they enjoyed it.”

Now they’re old records in the hands of a new generation of fans, with Schupp being just 15 years old.

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