Words and images by Dali Poulsom for underthemoon.
Despite streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer offering a huge variety of music at your fingertips, the sale of vinyl records has continued to rise. Fans of vinyl argue that not only are the records warmer in tone, but they actual physicality of placing the needle in the groove and flipping a record over offers a more immersive experience to just pressing play on a screen.
Album or playlist?
Once you start listening to vinyl you will discover that music is showcased as an entire album and not a random collection of songs like a playlist on a streaming service. Albums are like stories and have been carefully arranged to ensure the listener gets to experience the music as one flowing piece – it’s a different listening experience.
The music recommended to users through online playlists is built from digital algorithms created based on what the user already listens to, which in one respect is good as listeners find new music in the genre they like. However, algorithms do not allow for expansion or growth in our listening tastes – with many icon albums missing from key artists, our listening tastes can become limited.
Buying and selling
Convenience is a big factor with digital music, you can listen to new music or old favourites anytime, anywhere, at the press of a button. Records cost money. There is no ‘try before you buy’ and there is the actual process of physically buying a piece of vinyl.
Downloading digital music doesn’t come with the kind of organic joy that can be found browsing at an independent record store. These stores are what has kept vinyl alive. Vinyl fans support the annual event of Record Store Day which takes place globally and enables musicians to sell exclusive, limited edition pressings to independent stores. Hunting new music is more than scrolling a screen and the physical process of flicking through record stacks is an unique one – a place where cover artwork could be enough to make you buy! Buying vinyl is personal, local record shops are staffed with knowledgeable and passionate individuals who can help you engage with your music taste and recommend albums – all of which is key to strengthening the musical community.
Technology has shifted. But, vinyl still sounds better.
Vinyl is pressed from original recordings and masters of an album which are rare and of very high quality. This is because during the mixing process, as much details as needed can be found. Similarly in photography, it is beneficial to shoot in higher resolution as it gives you more editing ability.
MP3s on the other hand are compressed which means some detail is lost in the sound. Listening to vinyl opens your ears up to exactly what the music sounds like. There is a warmer sound that many enthusiasts prefer from their record players. Comparatively, the experience of playing a record is preferred, especially being a lossless format.
You own music
Vinyl records have personality; from the physical feel of the record to the sleeve artwork. Vinyl come is limited editions including different sleeves, coloured vinyls and picture discs
If you are a casual listener, digital services can be great – they are varied, cheap and portable. However, some music fans enjoy owning and re-listening to their collections. There is no right or wrong – listen to music and enjoy it however you want
One issue with digital platforms is that sometimes due to disputes of royalties, musicians’ music can get removed. Streaming platforms pay very little to artists until they reach over thousands listens, which for upcoming musicians is difficult to obtain. Whereas fans buying physical merchandise gives them better return for their art.
‘‘My best mate Maggy bought me the Hair soundtrack for my birthday this year. Ever since Maggy was in a AmDram version of the show when we were teenagers, we loved it. The soundtrack has been with us through good times and bad.
“Recently, I started my own vinyl collection. I love the thrill of searching through boxes in second hand shops to get to listen to an album I love in a whole new way. Maggy is a DJ, and was very excited to hear I had started collecting vinyl, so I felt this was an important record for us both in my collection’’
Frankie-Rose Taylor (pictured right)
https://www.underthemoon.uk/for-the-love-of-vinyl an online music magazine run by third year BA Photojournalism studenty Dali Poulson has a new community page called For the Love of Vinyl where people can share their favourite vinyl record. If you would like to get involved get in touch with Dali through the magazine.