by Briana Herrera
At the turn of the new decade in 2010, vinyl saw it’s own renaissance. Vinyl sales began to go up for the first time since the invention of CDs, Vinyl pressing plants that had closed their doors began to reopen, and every artists from Bonafide stars, to smaller bands started to all have their albums released on vinyl. As the decade passed on the demand for vinyl only saw it’s own ends grow. Retail stores such as Target started to not only carry vinyl, but also offer their own exclusives. All culminating in vinyl outselling cds in 2020 for the first time in the 1980s. Over it’s 80 year history vinyl has continued to show it’s timelessness, which we see even today.
Vinyl Market Surges At The Start of Pandemic
With worsening economic conditions, including a record-breaking 10 million people suddenly having to file for Unemployment this March, nearing 10 percent of the population, as well as an unemployment system that was already dysfunctional, many were not able to make it through, people had to find new ways to keep money in their pocket and a roof in over their head. This also leads to people selling their used vinyl in record numbers. Popular vinyl resale website Discogs reported an uptick of sales on their website by over 33% in 2020. With over 5,800,000 vinyl albums sold on Discogs by June of 2020, it became probable many were selling albums to survive, while others went in search of rare vinyl to listen to in all their newfound free time. The data shows Discogs jump in sales begun the week the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a Global Pandemic, as well as an uptick of 337,847 new submissions of records for sale on the site. I myself have sought out multiple out of print records on the Discogs app, that I feel makes users feel like they’re on a treasure hunt of all their favorite albums.
A copy of Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life was originally sold at retail stores at an average of $36, however it was a limited release, in 2020, finding a copy can fetch a price of around $160, but also routinely goes for around $350, which has become common place with all vinyls. I myself was thinking of purchasing the Urban Outfitters exclusive version of Pony by Rex Orange County on their site for $20, but because I had not purchased it before it sold out, I found myself paying $40 for it on Ebay. All routine with the supply and demand of vinyl variants.
In-store Record Sales During a Pandemic
Record Stores rely on a bulk of their purchases through in-store sales, when stores were forced to shutter back in March, many were left to wonder how they could make an income and pay off their rent until things became safer for people to consternate in groups. Iconic Record Store, Amoeba Music, was hit particularly hard by the shutdowns, as they were already set to have a couple of months left on their lease for their iconic Hollywood location. The shutdown causes them to change their entire plan for the year, deciding to shut down at their Hollywood location for good until the new building would be ready, as well as start a GoFundme with a 500,000 goal and supported by celebrities such as Chris Rock and Tyler, the Creator who’d been frequenting the location for years. The Landscape change caused Amoeba to decide to only make sales via their website for a good portion of the year with many other stores following suit. Local Las Vegas record store chain Zia Records was one of the stores who followed suit until it was okay for retail stores to be opened again, and offering Curbside Pickup to customers who didn’t feel safe coming in under threat of illness once they reopened their doors.
National Record Store Day is a beloved event that happens annually and sees a bevy of limited-run vinyl pressings all only available for purchase the day of, meant to incentivize people to support their local record stores and draws tens of thousands of people every year. Originally set for April 18th, due to the pandemic was postponed to be held in the fall, once in August, September, and October to limit crowds.
Las Vega’s own local record store, Zia Records, had over 60 people lined up, 6 feet apart, to queue in line an hour early to grab their favorite releases, though many were concerned, day 1 of 3 proved to be a huge success, with the first day of record store day attracting over half of the number of people who normally visit, while only carrying a quarter of the titles, and being the biggest sales days most record stores see all year while getting to follow all safety guidelines. Many now find themselves with the time to truly enjoy their favorite albums.
The Welcoming Online Community
Since vinyl sales have increased so has the community. Thousands of users online come together daily to talk about vinyl. The newest releases, what they purchased, mock up of vinyl, rumors, and wish lists are all posted within Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I personally find the most prevalent vinyl community on Instagram. Hundreds of users have created separate accounts to showcase their vinyl collection.
Many spend hours planning out which vinyl to post and how they will present their collection to their followers. Many create connections through these pages and have even taken the time to help people they haven’t met make big purchases on vinyl or even find great deals.
Now more than ever is the best time to join the community and it will only continue to grow bigger and bigger. The return of vinyl just started as mentioned before this has been the best year for vinyl since the 80s’.