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The Great White Hope of Vinyl

Gimmicks work. Just ask Jack White. The former White Stripe thrives off the novelty of the archaic, swinging his guitar like it’s going out of style (alas, it is). And here comes the news that his second solo album, Lazaretto (Third Man/Columbia), has become the best-selling vinyl release since Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy… which debuted way back in 1994.

It’s not a revelation that LPs have made a comeback (their sales have been ascending since 2007, according to Nielsen SoundScan) or that White’s clever marketing contributed to Lazaretto’s 62,000 vinyl copies flying off the shelves. (It produces a 3-D hologram, for goodness’ sake.) What is remarkable is the rocketing success rate of record sales.

Studies show that mid-year vinyl purchases in 2014 are up about 28 percent from this point last year (4 million versus 2.9 million). Prior to that, LP sales grew by 30.4 percent between 2012 and 2013. And that doesn’t even factor in used copies of Rumours one might find in a tattered thrift store.

There is the technical, audiophile argument for why LPs are en vogue, but we’re keen on one kid’s comment in a New York Times article as to why he chooses vinyl:

“‘CDs? My dad listens to CDs — why would I do that?’”

RPM might as well stand for rebellions per minute.

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  • John Morton
    John Morton
    9 years

    I wish I had the cash to be part of that audiophile crowd, but I'll likely be getting a simple turntable to listen to the few records I have. I feel like there is ritual with vinyl that connects you with the music more. Taking the 12" record out of the sleeve, delicately placing it on the platter, lowering the needle, and turning it over at the halfway point to do it all again. This existed to some degree with CDs even, but as soon as they were available in car stereos and as multi-disc changers, it diminishes the ritual and becomes more about convenience.

    Of course I'm old enough that I can say I parents used to listen to records, so I don't have rebellious notion to hold on to. :)


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