At the same time as downloads have become the norm, physical music has not gone anywhere. In fact, the vinyl industry has made a huge comeback.
According to Newsweek, vinyl has become a billion-dollar industry. It grew by 50 percent in 2014, the most it has grown since 1996. This growth is surprising, since there seems to be a much better medium that eliminates all the inconveniences that come with playing music from a record. At the University of North Dakota students are purchasing vinyl and using streaming services.
Reina Ortega, a communication major, is a growing collector of vinyl. She currently owns 25 records. She bought a record player on a whim, on Black Friday in 2015. Her first record was an All Time Low record. Since then, the hobby has only grown. She said vinyl simply sounds better.
“It’s unique. It connects modern music to something with a bigger history. Puts all artists on kind of the same playing field,” Ortega said.
She said she enjoys the less-compressed sound and the overall experience. She said she loves seeing her crate full of records, all alphabetized and organized.
“I like having physical copies of books. I like having physical copies of music,” she said.
Anders Huft, an electrical engineering major, has been collecting for a long time. He owns 52 records. His first record was a gift from his grandpa, on his 16th birthday. It was five Beatles records. He bought his record player two weeks later. It has been four years and he keeps buying more of them.
He said, “The whole thing is what makes it for me. Placing the needle on the record, hearing the crackle and pops that come out. I enjoy working for my music. It forces me to listen and enjoy it.”
He said he understands that his hobby makes no sense. Spotify and Apple Music are so much simpler and more convenient.
“A streaming service can never fully replace the feelings I get when I hold a record in my hands,” Huft said.
Even though both students enjoy their records, they both have a Spotify subscription and listen to digital music almost as much as physical music. Ortega said the portability of Spotify is really the only draw over vinyl.
“If I could somehow play my records on the go, you’d see me with a record player on campus instead of my phone,” Ortega said.
For Anders, it is a similar issue. But it really comes down to money too.
He said, “I can’t afford to buy every album I listen to on Spotify. It makes it so music does not limit the music I listen to.” At the same time, he made sure to say that he would love to buy every record in the world. “Maybe one day,’ he said, laughing.
Desiree Robinson, who just recently started collecting records believes that records are timeless
“They are just one of those things that will always be cool. Like, you see legwarmers nowadays and they look silly. But records are just classy,” she said. She explained that while Spotify is convenient, it is just not the same experience as putting a record on a turntable.
“It forces the user take the time to think carefully about what they want to sit and listen to and admire the classic medium and intricate album art. Overall, vinyls require someone to put a lot more care into loving music,” Robinson said.
While there is not a club or organization for vinyl collectors at UND, there are two record stores in Grand Forks that supply the town with vinyl. There is Ojata Records, located on the corner of University Ave. and North Washington. They sell records and comic books, with a focus on live music. It is a growing business. They just recently moved into their current location.
The other record store in town is Budget Music, located on South Washington. It sells records, CDs and posters. It is a small chain, with another store in Minot. Both Budget Music and Ojata Records are growing, trying to produce more a culture around records in Grand Forks. Since the business is thriving, most likely this culture will spread up the Red River.