Last year, I called vinyl’s resurgence one of my “Top Trends of the Year That Made Me Scratch My Head.” This article was written as an assignment for a journalism class, but also was a good opportunity to explore the reason’s behind it’s comeback.

Jared Mayre, a man in is early to mid twenties, is squatted down next to a shelf of 7-inch vinyls atWaterloo Records in downtown Austin, his fingers flipping through singles with an almost fluid like consistency. Many of the records that he is looking through are by newer bands.

Mayre, and others like him, are part of a growing trend of younger people embracing the vinyl record format, a technology that many thought would become obsolete with the advent of the compact disc during the mid-eighties.

An article late last year in the New York Times cited that vinyl saw a 35 percent increase in sales in 2009 compared to the previous year, while CD’s continued their downward spiral, decreasing by 20 percent in the same time. It also pointed out that many stores have jumped on the bandwagon, including national entertainment chain Best Buy.

This trend has caught the attention of record labels, as the last few years have seen the release of vinyl versions of new albums on the same day as the CD and digital versions. Additionally, many albums have been reissued on vinyl to capitalize on the leaps in technology.

There have been several theories as to why vinyl has seen a renaissance in the past few years, but they all acknowledge the fact that the format is a long way from being a relic of the past. Some believe that people have rediscovered it’s audio benefits.

“There is still a niche of people that believe that vinyl has a warmer sound quality,” said Waterloo customer Michael Garcia, who is in his late 40’s, “The technology has improved so much that it’s hard to tell the difference between a record and a CD.”

For some, looking through vinyl bins and catalogs fulfills a certain aesthetic that they find endearing. This is a possible explanation as to why most customers looking through these collections at record stores are the young and artsy type, as is the case with Mayre.

“It’s kind of romantic to just look through a vinyl collection at a store like Waterloo,” he said.

For others, such as St. Edward’s University senior Garrett Hall, buying vinyl puts some of the magic back into going to a record store.

“It makes buying music more fun, and it provides a way to help small local businesses, such asEnd of An Ear.”

Collecting vinyl can also be a way for generations to connect with each other. St. Edward’s freshman Callie Chiang said that she started getting into vinyl because of her mom. She said that there was an old turntable sitting in her house as a child, but she didn’t think much of it.

“I never really paid attention to it because my parents didn’t use it,” she said. “But one day in probably the sixth grade, we went to a store in the Heights [a historic neighborhood in Houston] and she showed some records to me.”

It was then that Chiang decided to start collecting records, and she has been collecting ever since.

“It was the music I was into, and they were really cheap too,” she said, “So I bought some and figured out how to use the turn tables. I almost exclusively buy them used.”

(Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times)

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