By Sara Soteras i Acosta
Washington, Jul 17 (EFE).- Like many other Americans, Jonathan Stein has found himself caught up in the vinyl record craze in the United States.
While looking for LPs at a store in Washington DC, the 37-year-old told Efe that he has “gotten swept up in” that new hobby in recent years, visits record shops frequently and even does some selling on the side.
He said he also has recently noticed more young faces at specialty record stores.
“I would say, for the most part, it skews younger at this point. I’ll see older folks actually looking at CDs, younger people looking at vinyl. That’s kind of my impression these last few years,” Stein said.
Indeed, the rage for vinyl appears to have more staying power than expected.
In the first half of 2023, sales of those classic records made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) rose 21.7 percent from the same period of the previous year, according to a new report by entertainment data company Luminate.
That marked a resurgence compared to a Luminate study a year ago that showed sales growth of just 1 percent, prompting many to wrongly assume the vinyl market had reached its ceiling.
Consumers’ appetite for these records, whose golden age stretched from the 1950s to the 1980s, remains a remarkable business story of the 21st century.
2022 marked the 17th consecutive year of growth in vinyl sales, and, according to a Recording Industry Association of America report, more vinyl records than CDs were sold last year for the first time since 1987.
The Luminate study also reveals that same trend, indicating that 23.6 million vinyl records were sold in the first half of this year compared to 17.5 million CDs.
And according to that entertainment data company, most vinyl consumers are members of Generation Z, or those born between the end of the 1990s and the early 2010s.
By contrast, among all types of physical music (CDs, cassettes and vinyl), the main buyers are those from Generation X, the cohort born between the late 1960s and the early 1980s.
One of Stein’s favorite places for vinyl browsing is Som Records, a small music store hidden away on 14th Street amid restaurants and nightspots in downtown Washington DC.
Its owner, Neal Becton, who had worked for a decade as a reporter for the Washington Post, founded that shop 15 years ago.
Becton told Efe he saw a boost in customers shortly before the onset of the pandemic in the US and that the boom has not stopped since.
According to the Luminate study, only around half of vinyl consumers have a record player at home, and in fact many of the buyers of these products are collectors.
Becton, however, says he has seen his customer base expand.
“When I first opened, it was mainly DJs and collectors (that) were my main two customers, pretty much. I didn’t get many young people unless they were in the club music (scene) or something. Now I get high-school children, 18-year-olds, families shopping together,” he said.
At a time when most consumers are subscribers to monthly Apple Music or Spotify plans and have access to a vast array of music without purchasing any individual albums or singles, Becton said vinyl has an enduring appeal.