It is always interesting when old things come back into fashion. The 21st Century has seen resurgences in popularity for old fashioned baby names, vintage clothing, home baking, knitting…
Perhaps we turn to the past to grab a taste of simpler times. In a world ruled by automation and digitalisation, we can so easily lose skills, hobbies and experiences that we never thought we’d miss.
However, it’s less easy to explain a reason for old technology coming back into fashion. The digital age brings with it so many benefits – larger higher-definition and slimmer screens; more powerful, compact computers and phones; faster data speeds… generally speaking, technological progress is a good thing. So why are turntables coming back into fashion? After all, you can store thousands of songs in a device that fits into the palm of your hand, which can then be transported anywhere and played through any speaker or pair of earphones.
Well, perhaps that’s part of the problem – perhaps it’s all just a bit too easy.
The Experience of Buying ‘Physical’ Music
I’m part of the Compact Disc generation, but I remember the thrill of the build up to an album’s release day and being taken into town by my parents to buy it. The simple act of buying the CD was an experience. I’d proudly take the CD home and play it repeatedly. This whole process was something to savour – the highlight of my week. But there was something about physically owning the music. It was mine. Physically tangible, the music actually existed in your hand.
I remember the build up to buying certain albums – and actually buying them in the shop – where I was, what I was doing that day; I don’t think I can recall the particular moment I bought an album through iTunes.
What’s Missing with Downloads?
With streaming services now available, you don’t even need to buy music to listen to it. And pressing a button on a screen to download a song is hardly a match for the anticipation and joy experienced when going to town to buy your music; this all contributed to how the music made you feel – even years later.
So ‘physical’ copies of music are engaging and help us to connect with the music itself. We form memories based around the buying experience, enjoy the artwork and album literature, the look and feel of the music in our hands.
But vinyl takes this one step further than the CD by removing the digital element altogether. I remember playing a vinyl record for the first time – my Dad’s ‘The Power’ by SNAP! I agree there is a certain authenticity and life in the sound that just can’t be digitally replicated. As the needle glides over the vinyl ridges, ‘feeling’ the music, you also feel a visceral connection to the artist in the recording studio.
So, in reality it’s no real surprise that vinyl is making a comeback; people miss seeing, feeling and truly experiencing the music they buy.
Where digitalisation has advanced the accessibility of music, it’s also lost part of its soul.
The ‘Modern’ Turntable
Record players are being reinvented for the 21st Century. From the retro to the modern, some make a striking room feature and others are more portable. Many offer bluetooth compatibility in a blend of the old and the new. There’s a turntable for every taste, meaning vinyl has never been more accessible.
So why not step away from your phone’s music player and take a vinyl record out for a spin(!); you may not even realise what you’ve been missing.
Do you miss vinyl (or CDs?) Can you remember buying your first album?