While Vinyl Sales Increase, CDs and MP3s Experiencing an Untimely, Yet Expected Demise

By Ian Holubiak on Jan 24, 2014 01:44 PM EST

The older generation must look at the younger one and wonder. In a rapidly advancing society--where immediate access to, in this case, music being the social norm--the revival of vinyl sales is a particularly mystifying idea to note.

The proverbial nail in the CD's coffin may have been struck as vinyl has experienced an increase in sales over the last two years. Physical media, thus, has begun to usurp digital sales (which have been in decline for the first time in a decade, via iTunes).

But what seems to attract young listeners to a seemingly older way of experiencing music? It can't be a shift in how to harbor music, because that would be inconceivable--what with the invention of the terabyte hard-drive.

So, what explains the 33 per cent increase from 2012's vinyl sales? Why were 6.1 million platters purchased in 2013 alone?

Vinyl is not taking the place of digital music--far from it. Instead, it's the physicality of actual records that attracts the kiddies.

To delve further, the conscience of the younger consumer may be one worthwhile in understanding.

It seems that the older crowd cannot fathom why a twenty-something would purchase vinyl over digital, strictly for sound quality alone!

Because musicphiles do not see this is a nostalgic purpose or some divine rite.

No, quite the opposite.

Vinyl shopping isn't nostalgic, the act of purchasing music at all is a completely foreign concept for a generation having grown up with access to Kazaa, Morpheus and Limewire (you know, those failed pirating platforms).

The general public, then, experiences something different when finding the right vinyl. Yes, buyers may understand the plight of the artist in the 21st century, and may also view the package as an art concept, lined with lyrics in various fonts and garnished with large-print album artwork.

I mean, dropping the needle alone seems to make for a unique experience specific to none other than a physical format. Vinyl requires you to sit and listen.

Shut the door and put the world on hold. You must engage with your turntable and feel an album as opposed to shuffling through songs in a playlist.

"Playing records is an active, intimate and focused experience," says The Globe and Mail's Brad Wheeler.

"Emptying the disc from the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, setting the needle on the record and flipping it over when the first side is done--the listener is engaged in a way that an iPod occurrence or a streaming situation cannot replicate. The vinyl event is a 360 degree one; it is for hunkering down," he romanticizes.

Therein lies the true purpose of vinyl ownership--a different and more tailored experience to listening to music.

The MP3 may falter in the dawn of a new medium, and while the compact disc comes to a predictable demise, the sale of vinyl continues to increase as listeners become more attune with their aural needs and desires.

Per a 2013 consensus, the following three titles were Amazon's top-selling "albums" of the year:

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories (Columbia)

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City (DGC)

Arcade FireReflektor (Mercury)

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TagsiTunes, vinyl, CD, Compact Disc, The Digital Age, Daft Punk, Random Access Memories, Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City, Arcade Fire, Reflektor, The Globe and Mail, Brad Wheeler

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