Are Turntables Becoming Popular Again?

Collecting Music on Vinyl

Colored vinyl continues to be popular with collectors.
Colored vinyl continues to be popular with collectors.

A massive collection of music on iTunes is awesome. A subscription to a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio gives computer users access to millions upon millions of songs at any given moment. But those songs are just files. There's no physicality, no liner notes to pore over or elaborate artwork to lovingly scrutinize. That's something only physical media, such as vinyl records and CDs, can offer. But to a lot of music fans, CDs are boring — their cases are too small to depict album art with the same boldness as a vinyl record sleeve.

Another point in vinyl's favor: As albums have become more popular among collectors in the 2000s, limited releases have made records cooler than ever with colored and split-color vinyl. Most vinyl albums are black, but they don't have to be — pigmented materials can make albums red, blue, pink, white, orange or practically any other color. Mixing together multiple vinyl pellets while pressing a record can turn out albums that are completely one-of-a-kind.

While there are decades' worth of classic albums still available on vinyl at low prices, modern artists often put lots of work into vinyl releases to make them special products for diehard fans. Vinyl sales are climbing, but they're still a small niche of the music business. Digital is now the standard for buying music — vinyl is the special release for fans who want something more. Sales are up year after year, but we have to keep them in perspective. CDs are still the most popular physical music format purchased.