Let's jump back to circa 2010. Cassette tapes have been smashed. CDs have been scratched. iTunes is a hit. People are buying singles by the singles. Lil Wayne and Ke$ha were considered top artists, ha. And Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Red, and insert-your-daily-music-streaming-service-here did not exist yet.
The purely digital age of music was beginning to take hold, and song listening attention spans became those of fishes. You know those people who can't get to the end of the song before changing to another. Yeah, drives me nuts too. I don't count CDs as the pure digital age because they still feel more like a physical medium.
The point is. No one listens to records anymore. People listen to songs. People listen to top 40 hits. People jump from one artist to another. And I feel like a certain element of a good listening experience is now missing.
I was a hater once too
And trust me, I get it. I'm guilty too. I have days where I don't want to stick to one artist— I wanna throw the iPod on shuffle and drive. Yes, I still use an iPod Classic, but why throw it aside when it holds so much and works great!
And the most ironic part is that back in the early 2010s I was one of those guys saying, "I would never buy vinyl. It isn't portable, there's a lot of maintenance to a record player setup, and records scratch up. Why do all that when I can get CDs and digital formats cheaper at same/better quality?"
A few years later and a single flea market vendor were all it took for me to get suckered into starting my collection with Michael Jackson's Thriller and a few Neil Young albums. And if that didn't push me into it enough, my buddy's generous father offered me one of his many record players free of charge since they were collecting dust in his basement. I could not be more grateful to him, as my Technics player is still running strong!
I now own about about 150 LPs both old and new and that number will only increase.
So what have I learned from my tracks on wax?
Well, for one. You are a lot more inclined to listen to records straight through, the way they were meant to be listened to, when you don't have the ability to skip songs at the touch of a button. Not including your loyal fandom artists whom you follow religiously, when was the last time you really sat down and gave a new artist a try? And by try, I mean you listened to one of their entire albums nonstop. If you are anyone like me, chances are you don't remember. With an LP, I get stretched out of my audial comfort zone into a space where I focus more intently on the artist's work.
Also, the tangibility of an LP in your hands feels a lot better with records. Holding a large cover and a giant groovy saucer make you feel like you actually own your music. It feels like you bought something you can value. It doesn't feel transparent and out of reach, like you would sense when streaming or downloading a song. Plus, assuming you bought it, it's yours to keep forever!
Which brings me to the greatest part of my vinyl experience. I enjoy the ritual records force the listener to carry out. This might sound mega-cheesy to some of you, but it is so true. There's no way to put it without sounding lame. Pulling an LP out of it's sleeve; getting it spinning; brushing dust off during pre-spin; and setting your needle. It feels like your actually putting the effort into listening to the music because you want to. You're not tapping a screen a few times for your instant microwave jam-out session. Maybe food makes a good analogy once again here.
Throwing on Spotify is like throwing your lean cuisine in the microwave, whereas the record feels like your stove-cooked meal. Both can be tasty, but the authenticity of the stove-cooked meal is preferrable.