Vinyl records are taking the world (and the stylus) by storm

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Production Studio WIXQ, Millersville University’s campus radio station, houses one of the largest record collections on campus. / Kat Delaney/Snapper

Morgan Huber
Opinion Editor

Music is and always has been a driving force in our daily lives – it uplifts, inspires and captivates, influencing our emotions and actions like the soundtrack to our moods and memories. As generations of listeners invent new ways to create and listen to music, some more vintage methods manage to make a comeback, among them the classic vinyl record.

According to reports from Vinyl Restart and MRC Music-Billboard, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed to over 40 million units, an 18-20% increase in the last year alone – and for good reason. A traditional yet innovative format, the discs transcend time, allowing musicians across decades and genres to be enjoyed like a spinning physical disc at the heart of the room.

The phonograph record, also known as the gramophone, was patented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, as an invention intended to create music by scanning the grooves, the source of sound, on a record, through a hard and sharp like a needle, or style. Vinyl record gets its most popular name from polyvinyl chloride, the chemical commonly used in the plastic of the material. Vinyl records were the predominant format for music listeners for most of the 20th century, only falling into obscurity in the 1990s when more portable devices, such as cassette tapes and compact discs (CDs). came to the fore.

Nearly two decades later, vinyl records have once again become the format of choice for music enthusiasts and casual listeners alike, but why?

I got my record player and my first album, “1” by the Beatles, when I was in high school, and since then I’ve been collecting my inventory ranging from Florence + The Machine to original copies of the Star Wars soundtracks. As a listener and collector, records allow me to enjoy the entire discography of artists I love and want to know more about, beyond the singles I hear on the radio or on Spotify. The discs are also designed to stimulate creativity and innovation in terms of processing and listening to music. The larger size of the album leaves more room for the cover design, both front and back, and the tracks are often placed in a specific order to create the optimal visual and auditory experience. Essentially, vinyl retains its favorite status even today due to the sheer novelty and joy of an artist’s experience through the tap of a stylus.

Many record stores, ranging from familiar franchises to cozy family-owned boutiques now line the city’s streets and malls, further preserving the music and culture of yesterday and today (read more about the stores discs in the Lancaster area, see my article under Features). With artists now also releasing new albums as vinyl, and with many of these stores making them available to customers, they allow physical music to once again establish itself as the preferred source of music.

While portability and the ability to choose the music we listen to may allow streaming services to remain the mainstay, there will always be that need to physically store the tracks and albums we love the most. The same can be said for books – there will always be this desire to physically hold the pages in our hands, to feel and smell the papers as we turn over to move on to the next chapter. Physical media, such as novels and vinyl records, give us a more immersive experience to consume and embrace.

No other music format, let alone physical forms, has captivated listeners as much as the circular black discs we’ve come to know and love. There is always something so fascinating and special about the feeling of taking the record out, placing it on the table and letting the stylus echo the sounds that stir your soul and fill the room, as well as your heart. Whatever musical methods come and go, vinyl records are here to stay and deserve to stay on our bedroom shelves and in our music collections.

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