Sunday, February 08, 2009


Vinyl -- as in vinyl long-playing records -- is still back.

This means I've maintainined my retro cool since we last checked in on the trend toward once again putting needle to record groove. Like I always say, stick with what you really, really like long enough . . . and it'll be cool again, and so will you.

HERE'S the latest take, from the Omaha World-Herald, on the audio tech that's as old as Edison:
Some people are trying to restock their old collections. Some like the experience of putting a record on a turntable. Others just like the sound.

But no matter the reason, people are buying a lot more vinyl, whether new or used, whether new releases or classics.

Vinyl's popularity has been growing for a few years, but it appears to be spiking.

Nielsen SoundScan, the company that tracks music purchases, reported that sales of new vinyl albums grew to 1.88 million in 2008, an increase of 89 percent over 2007. The number was the highest since SoundScan started tracking sales data in 1991.

Folks like Spencer Munson of Lincoln are leading the charge. Munson, known in the clubs as DJ Spence, has nearly 4,000 vinyl titles.

"I had a dad who was really into records, so that's where I started. He had all the classics: (Led) Zeppelin, the Beatles," he said. "I filled in the gaps with his collection, and as I was building this collection, I started realizing there were other things that I was falling in love with."

After collecting rock records, he started going after funk, disco and soul. A large part of his collection is also made up of 12-inch hip-hop singles that he samples while DJing.

The vinyl craze is welcome news to local outlets.

Two of every three new vinyl purchases were made in independent record stores, SoundScan reported. In Omaha and Lincoln, Homer's stores have seen huge increases in combined new and used vinyl sales in the last three years, including an 85 percent increase in 2008, said general manager Mike Fratt.

Bands and serious music collectors started the trend, but now it's reaching the masses. Until recently, consumers didn't see a lot of new vinyl in stores, so they assumed it wasn't available.

In the first days of CDs, record labels stopped manufacturing vinyl so people would embrace the new technology. Meanwhile, some indie bands continued to release material on vinyl and some distributors manufactured classic titles on vinyl so that DJs would be able to spin them. And that caught on, Fratt said.

"As people started going into thrift shops and used record stores and started buying '60s and '70s titles on vinyl, they got a chance to experience those records in their actual form. The excitement for the music started to grow from there and . . . it all kind of snowballed into one big avalanche," he said.

Bands such as Radiohead are pushing the trend. The release of Radiohead's "In Rainbows" was highly publicized last year, and the album was available in a special vinyl edition. It was the top-selling vinyl record in 2008.

More recently, indie band Animal Collective released "Merriweather Post Pavillion" on vinyl in January, a full two weeks ahead of its release on CD. Record stores sold out almost immediately.

"It was an eye-opener to how much people now are thinking of vinyl first or exclusively," said Neil Azevedo, manager of Drastic Plastic in the Old Market.
GROOVY! He says, surrendering major cool points. Sigh.

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