What makes a music lover prefer vinyl?
“CDs are dead because there’s no artwork,” said Mark Gault, owner of Gulfport Records on Gulfport Boulevard. “A physical album can have photos, lyrics.”
Twenty-year-olds “want to own a piece of history,” he said. “People in their 50s and 60s remember the hippy era. They’re collecting again.”
It’s also about the sound.
As a musician and sound engineer, this is something Gault knows a bit about. Digital .mp3 and streaming files use pulse technology, he says, which can cause “ear fatigue.” Vinyl is analog technology, which has “more pleasing tones,” Gault said. “It sounds more like real speech because the highs and lows are fuller, more rich.”
Gault’s store celebrated its first international Record Store Day on Saturday, April 16 by selling vintage vinyl records and the period machines that play them.
The first Record Store Day in 2008 was conceived by a group of U.S. record store owners and staff to celebrate the vinyl culture that spins in about 1,400 independently owned domestic stores along with thousands in international locations. Special vinyl and CD releases along with other related products, like turntables and local record pressings, are made for the annual day. Some cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boise and Las Vegas have declared it an official holiday.
“Vintage receivers, record players and speakers really pull [the sound] out,” he said.
People like vinyl for different reasons, said Rob Sexton, owner of Planet Retro Records on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
Some “dig vintage and save their money for six months so they can spend $100,” he said. “Older guys [are] lookin’ for 60s rock from their glory days.”
There’s no question vinyl is popular. According to a September 2015 report released by the Record Industry Association of America, vinyl record sales were 36 percent higher than ad-supported streaming music services from from January to June 2015. In total dollar figures, vinyl was $221.8 million compared to streaming’s $162.7 million.
Taking a cell phone call during his third annual Record Store Day, Sexton’s answer to a young person’s question was, “Every place on Earth is sold out of Twenty One Pilots.” He ordered 20 of the special release vinyl albums and got eight for the sale day. Before noon, he was sold out.
He also sold out of 10 new, three-speed 2016 special edition Mickey Mouse Crosley Cruiser portable record players by late morning.
“I just bought my first record and record player,” said Planet Retro shopper Amanda Miller of St. Petersburg. Welsh pop punk Neck Deep’s newest title Life’s Not Out to Get You motivated her to make her purchase along with encouragement from her friend, Amanda Starling of St. Petersburg. Starling has been into vinyl for four years and likes indy punk along with Emo or emotional music.
Miller opted for the Disney-themed record player as opposed to one made by Audio-Technica.
“It’s very cute,” she said. “My style.”