Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vinyl Record Day -- not to be confused with Record Store Day

Record Store Day was April 21. We've asked the crack research staff here at The Blog of Days to file that factoid away for reference at the appropriate time next spring. We're crossing our fingers in hopes they remember.

Meanwhile, today is Vinyl Record Day. Why today? Well, some sources claim Edison invented the phonograph on this date in 1877 (although others say Edison didn't complete the first phonograph until November 21 of that year). And Edison recorded sound on tinfoil first, later on wax (leading eventually to the old cliche "stacks of golden wax"). But, whenever Edison actually invented the phonograph, vinyl wasn't used as a medium for sound recording until after World War II.

There are probably 45 other days (or at least 33⅓ days) which would be as appropriate or more for Vinyl Record Day -- but, nevertheless, today is the big day.

Interestingly, vinyl records are not merely historic artifacts. Although they were virtually pushed out of the stores by CDs in the 80s and 90s (and CDs seem near extinct themselves, these days) vinyl records started to make a comeback a few years back.

And vinyl is not being bought by Baby Boomers on a nostalgia binge (we have enough vinyl in our basements, thank you). Rather, vinyl's resurgence comes from young hipsters, kids under 30 who "listen out of a borrowed nostalgia for an unremembered, pre-internet age." According to a May 6 article by Misty Harris in the Vancouver Sun:
Once the purview of bearded hipsters, DJs and audiophiles, vinyl is now being sought by music lovers of all ages and interests. That shift is not only reflected in the range of artists with LPs — think Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire — but also in the ways in which the albums are being packaged, with many accompanied by digital downloads. * * *

Nielsen SoundScan reports that U.S. unit sales of vinyl have grown annually for the past six years, rising from 857,000 in 2005 to 3,868,000 in 2011.
Harris's article notes that vinyl sales are trending even higher in 2012.

So vinyl records are not going to be consigned to the scrapheap of history with buggy whips or typewriters; surely, that's worth celebrating.

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