The vinyl records comeback from the musicians' POV


Ralph Graves

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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About this time last year, Jim R. posted his thoughts on why vinyl records appeared to be making a comeback. Jim outlined what he thought were three reasons for the return:

  1. The sound of vinyl
  2. The ritual of listening to a record
  3. Vinyl as artistic expression

A recent article by Matt Debenedictis for Noise Creep may add some additional insight -- Vinyl in the Digital Age: Straight From the Horse's Mouth, Talking to Bands puts the question straight to a number of up-and-coming and mainstay indie artists.

Many hit on Jim's points over the course of their interviews. Steve Moore of Zombi, for example, said, "I love the sound. And the ritual of it.. Putting on a record is more of a commitment than playing CDs or MP3s." And, according to John Tardy of Obituary, "We spend so much money on artwork it is nice to be able to see it without a microscope!  [and vinyl's] great to get autographs on!"

Several, though, brought up another reason for vinyl's popularity -- especially among die-hard fans. Adam Wentworth of Bloodhorse pointed out "There is still something special about vinyl compared to CDs... Anyone with a computer and a Staples nearby can make CDs in the bedroom. It's so common and widely understood that there's nothing special anymore....  LPs are more substantial. They're like books; people are more likely to put them out on a shelf and hang onto them."

Based on the article, it seems artists see LPs as a way to create something of value for the fan: in addition to being a format that has a different sound, creates a different listening experience, and allows for a broader artistic expression (or at least bigger album art).

So what do you see as the reason for vinyl's continued, if modest, growth?