Vinyl just won't die. The 8-track and cassette tape challenged its might in the 1970s and 1980s. CDs took over the market in the 1990s. iTunes drove a digital download revolution in the 2000s. As each new format challenged the record player with advances in technology and portability, the vinyl market grew smaller and smaller. But it didn't die.
And then, something strange happened. Vinyl sales picked up. And they kept going up. In 2011, new vinyl record sales grew 39 percent over 2010 sales, to 3.9 million records -- higher than they'd been in 20 years [source: DigitalMusicNews]. Are turntables becoming popular again? The statistics speak for themselves -- you've got to have something on which to play all those newly-purchased vinyl records. But the real question is this: Why is vinyl making a comeback? Even with big growth in 2010 and 2011, vinyl's hardly set to upstage the Internet or even the CD as a popular music format. What do people see in vinyl?
Well, the trusty record has two things playing to its advantage. One: the unique sound of analog, something missing from digital formats. Two: collectability, driven by the increased space for album artwork and the special care poured into the creation of many modern vinyl runs. Vinyl albums and the turntables that play them have taken on a niche role in the modern music scene. While they were once the inferior technology for conveniently listening to music, they're now the coolest alternative to the simplicity of an MP3. Let's take a deeper look at why turntables are still selling and what that means for the music market.