Print Media & Vinyl Records: Making a comeback

 

By Amanda Boyko

The resurgence in popularity that has defined the world of vinyl records in recent years is truly astonishing. The access we have to music digitally in 2016 is unparalleled in convenience and efficiency. Yet, vinyl sales have a “predicted year on year growth of 100%”(McGuinenness, 2014, as cited in Sarpong, Dong, & Appiah, 2015).

I’m sure we all know a ‘millennial’ who has contributed in some way to statistics like this. Personally, I have a friend in his mid-20’s, whose vinyl collection exceeds one thousand records and is the object of infinite envy in our group of friends.

vinyl2
My vinyl copy of Tame Impala’s most recent album, Currents, playing for the first time among my mother’s decades-old collection of records, 2016

While I currently own a grand total of one vinyl record- that I’ve only listened to a handful of times on my mother’s record player- it was worth it to me to acquire it. I went to the store, stood in line, and bought the vinyl on it’s release date (despite the fact that I had already listened to the record online multiple times). It’s the novelty of it all, and I find myself yearning for more and more vinyl copies of my favourite artists’ albums.

I feel it’s very possible that in future years, print issues of newspapers and magazines will be coveted in the same way, maybe newspaper outlets will have events on release dates of of special issues, at which young people line up to get their hands on a copy. The print copies would probably be more expensive, and much less convenient to obtain than a digital version, but…. so are vinyl records, and this is exactly what’s happening. In fact, on the release date of “A Moon Shaped Pool” on vinyl, Radiohead’s most recent album, independent record stores from around the world took part in an event wherein tracks from the album as well as a live performance were streamed on site, and competitions were held for anyone in attendance. Edmonton’s own, Blackbyrd Moozik participated in this event.

I know that music fans can be a little bit more enthusiastic and involved than those of print media… but like vinyl, aspects of print media that are unappealing or irrelevant to the masses now, will have value in the future.

“Records facilitate connection via qualities associated with humanity, like creativity and physical presence.” (C. Yochim & Biddinger, 2008)

It may be a niche market but it’s already quite common for people keep, and even frame certain editions of magazines or newspapers that hold some significance to them. I feel that it would be a reasonable prediction to say that fans of a specific writer or publication will be more than inclined to get their hands on print copies of media released in the future, and they will go the extra mile to do so.

I do not feel that print media is dead- if I can go to a house party in 2016 and see my friends clamouring over the record player, eagerly waiting to drop the needle on their favourite vinyl… I believe that 20 years from now, homes will still have subscriptions to newspapers (maybe with less frequent releases), and print magazine collections will be more common and something to display with pride. Whichever form of ‘hipster’ is reigning at the time will be bragging to their friends that the only place they get their news is from the paper itself.

Print will likely never have the same presence in society as it once did, but based on the trends that have made comebacks in recent years, when print does, it will be with strength.

 

Sources:

Sarpong, D., Dong, S., & Appiah, G. (2016).‘Vinyl never say die’: The re-incarnation,                        adoption and diffusion of retro-technologies. Technological Forecasting and Social                       Change, 103, 109-118. Retrieved from

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162515003078

Yochim, C. E., & Biddinger, M.(2008). ‘It kind of gives you that vintage feel’: vinyl records              and the trope of death. Media Culture Society, 30, 183-195. Retrieved from

http://mcs.sagepub.com/content/30/2/183.short

 

 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162515003078

 

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3 thoughts on “Print Media & Vinyl Records: Making a comeback

  1. But do you suppose this trend back to vinyl is just a fad? If it is will it hold out for a significant amount of time? I was a person with thousands of LP’s, cassette recordings of those albums, several turntables, stereos and finally compact discs. I for one was quite pleased with the lack of bulk in my life when thousands upon thousands of albums could fit in my shirt pocket on an MP3 player. I believe the same is true for print. Magazines and newspapers are just to destructive to nature and to hard to maintain after getting them. It is true that the odd one would be nice to frame but I don’t think that market will allow the publishers to stay in business long.

    This was a great post, thanks for putting it up. Cam

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    1. I think it could be just a fad. At the same time though, vinyl is always going to have a place in society. It might settle into an even narrower niche, but I think that it will always have value. I think vinyl and print will hold up (to an extent) and maintain some popularity for the same reason anything from a past time does, the rarity and nostalgia of it. I don’t think that putting print in the same category as other historic collectables exactly means that it’s not “dead,” but for enthusiasts, each copy would hold so much more importance than they do now for anybody.

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  2. One thing that vinyl has going for it is that the sound quality is still superior to digital (or so the argument goes). If someone has a vinyl collection, they might be a trendy hipster, but they also might just really be invested in music and sound quality. Cassettes and VHS tapes on the other hand are objectively worse than what current technology can offer.

    Print media doesn’t have this same dichotomy, or at least I don’t think so. The quality of the words doesn’t change depending on the medium. I love physical books and still buy them despite the wide availability of digital versions. I love that sensation being able to flip forward and backwards, being able to display my collection on my shelves, and being able to feel the physicality of the story. You feel good when you turn the final page of that 1000-page novel. I’d say this is the print parallel to that superior sound quality that vinyl offers. But we’re talking literature and music. Pieces of art. I don’t think that newspapers can generate that same reverence.

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