The September 21, 2013 issue of Billboard Magazine featured an article titled “Vinyl’s New Groove” – (Google it), which – among other things – states that the sales of vinyl records (LPs) has gone from just under one million in 2007, to a remarkable 4.6 million in 2012, and still rising. According to the article, not only is the record store making a comeback, even bigger stores like Target and Whole Foods are now stocking vinyl, which is most likely only fueling this “Record Renaissance”.
As a DJ and music enthusiast – this is great news to me, yet it comes as no surprise. I should probably preface with the fact that I, and many other DJs and music enthusiasts I know, not only held on to our old records, but even continued to collect them. I say it comes as no surprise because vinyl records are not just a novelty medium with which to play music, but also a high-fidelity art form which, unlike digital music, is tangible. You can hold it (with technique – carefully at the edges), look at the art, read the liner notes and learn about the artist… something you cannot do with an MP3.
Over the past decade, our DJ Company has received a myriad of calls from folks asking “Do you buy old records?”, to which I would always respond, “Depends on what ya got”. More often than not, these “record collections” were poorly maintained (by DJ standards), with tattered covers and sleeves, and scratched or damaged vinyl, and admittedly, this was sort of depressing. My DJ instinct drives me to protect that which is “holy”, and of all mediums of music recording, the vinyl is what a DJ holds most sacred.
But besides keeping vinyl records on a shelf, safe from harm, and occasionally pulling them out and playing them for our own listening pleasure, what purpose does the vinyl LP serve? In Star Wars, Han Solo shrugs off “The Force” and the light saber as hokey, and belonging to a forgotten time. Yet those of us “in the know” realize that The Force, although an older form of art, and the Jedi who use it continue to reign supreme. Like the Jedi, the vinyl DJ also reigns supreme.
I’m not suggesting that a digital-only DJ can’t be immensely talented, but at the end of the day, they’re pressing buttons. Being a vinyl DJ, or at least possessing the skill, requires a more physical aspect or quality. Essentially, the vinyl DJ needs to move their arms and body, not just their fingers and hands, as they are truly “jockeying discs”. Most of the highest paid DJs today use vinyl, or some digital derivative (programs that assign value to a record on a turntable), almost exclusively.
I’m not suggesting that some great shift will occur causing the demise of the MP3, as I believe iTunes and Amazon are here to stay. If anything, I’m merely stating the obvious, which is that the recent climb in record sales in an indisputable indicator that someone (lots of someones) still wants vinyl records, which makes this DJ very, very happy… for the record.