By Vanessa Violo
Find out more about Vanessa here!
It’s the year 1935- you’ve just returned home after a day spent raking through crates full of shellac records. After paying, you rush back home, careful not to drop your newest fragile possession. Ever so cautiously, you pull the glossy, black record out of its sleeve and place it on your turntable. Its spins swiftly as the paper-thin needle slowly makes it’s decent, gracing the surface with an ever-so-soft crackle as the song begins…
Ways we buy and listen to music have changed a lot since then- but why?
To put things simply, records became impractical. The shellac material was far too brittle, and the thinnest scratch could completely ruin the entire experience. Even after the introduction of Polyvinyl Chloride (vinyl), from the 1970’s onward, the popularity and novelty had faded and cassette tapes where in fashion. Then Cd’s had their prime time until the internet took over and suddenly, we found ourselves in a world with Pandora, Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and countless other streaming platforms.
The indulgence in buying, collecting and listening to music just hasn’t been quite the same.
Nowadays no one has to spend time or money sifting through songs at a record store- all you need is internet, a device with speakers and BAM- music. No longer do we have to deal with record scratches and skips, no crates or stacks of vinyls, just music at our fingertips whenever we want it. Who could ask for more?
But something happened in the 2010’s.
Vinyl records had started to become ‘trendy’. Records were no longer found only at garage sales or dusted over in Op shops, but rather nostalgic and hipster stores had popped up. Suddenly owning your own record player and collecting stacks of music was a luxury- not an inconvenience. All of those old, discarded records had become expensive treasures to be cherished-sometimes even framed and glorified.
Personally, I have been collecting for a few years now and I have to say, that there is nothing quite like listening to an entire album for the very first time on vinyl. No, I am not a record snob who is convinced that ‘the sound quality is better’ or anything like that. I do believe that taking the time to physically play a song- dusting the needle and lining it up, sitting down to just listen- is such a wonderful experience. Listening this way allows you to appreciate the artform in a completely new way. I love going to thrift stores and sifting through crates and finding some gems amongst the dust. Many unlistened to vinyls live on my wall as décor. Sure, some of the old records aren’t up to scratch (ironically, they are very scratched), but I don’t mind- because that’s not the always the point and taking care of music that I can physically handle, is a joy.
Just like Kindle and Audible could never take away the sensation of owning and reading a physical book, I don’t believe records will ever disappear. I feel confident in saying that vinyls are here to stay-maybe they will come in and out of fashion- but they’re here to stay.