Return of the analog

Record players, CD players and walkmans are back in style

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By Melbah Grace Jacob 

Vinyl records, CDs and cassettes have been making a comeback as people seek a deeper connection with music. 

A sense of nostalgia, the actual possession of the item and the deepened experience of playing an entire album rather than just a hit, are some of the reasons behind the growing trend, say music store owners. 

“A lot of it relates to what you remember from when you’re younger,” said Avi Shack of Beat Street Records, which has been in business for 27 years. “Anything from Baby Boomer to sort of anyone … over 35, probably they can they remember music from their youth.  

“So, some people are buying it from that or say it’s your parents’ music … sometimes someone who’s a teenager will be exposed.” 

According to Luminate Data, Generation Z makes up 33 per cent of cassette purchases, 27 per cent of vinyl purchases and 17 per cent of CD purchases. 

“It used to be an older male-dominated thing, but over the past 10-15 years, it’s really changed in terms of younger people getting into it,” Shack said. “A lot more women are getting into it, it is a wider demographic than it used to be.”   

Another attraction is the fact vinyl records, cassettes and CDs are possessions which can be passed over from one person to another and shared physically instead of a file or a screenshot, according to Shack.  

David Jones who runs Vinyl Records located in Gastown said people are drawn to older classic music and the nostalgia, “but they are also drawn to the quality.” 

Vintage vinyl records are superior to the new versions and are considered as assets by numerous enthusiasts. 

The art and holistic nature of an entire album was a big part of it, too, said Liane Gabora, psychologist and anthropologist who specializes in music, culture, and cognition.  

“If you’re listening to a record, each song would take you deeper and deeper into some experience,” Gabora said. “The experience that the artists were trying to convey, and, and so it just would never occur to you to just plunk the needle in the middle of the record, right?” 

“I also wouldn’t be surprised if it just continues to escalate in terms of popularity,” Shack said. “I feel like there still hasn’t been a format invented that’s superior to vinyl.” 

 

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