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Don't Call It A Comeback: Why Analog Will Always Have An Audience

WAMU-FM
Thursday, May 2, 2019

Let’s play a game.

I’m scratchy and sometimes temperamental. I’m hard to travel with. And I may have collected dust in your parent’s attic for years.

What am I?

You guessed it. A vinyl record.

Digital streaming has been the industry standard for years — allowing consumers to listen to audio with unprecedented ease. But analog formats that people can put their hands on are still alluring consumers.

In April, 827,000 vinyl albums were sold during the 12th annual Record Store Day week. According to Nielsen Music, that’s the third-largest sales week for vinyl albums since 1991, when the company first began tracking sales.

Cassette tape sales are also on the rise, and some artists are turning to analog recording practices.

What is it about analog that’s bringing consumers to record stores?

Here’s what Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan wrote about vinyl last year:

After more than a decade of increasing American sales, vinyl’s comeback is no longer a quirky, look-at-those-hipsters novelty. Instead, the bustling ecosystem of turntables and records is surprisingly close to being mainstream. Last year, vinyl was featured in commercials for insurance companies and arthritis pills. It was on “The Price Is Right.”

[…] The numbers — and observations from industry insiders — suggest that physical records will probably continue to remain a meaningful and lasting presence in many music lovers’ lives. In the years ahead, vinyl will likely maintain its status as a complement to the impersonality of streaming, a scruffy anachronism consistently hanging out at the margins.

We discuss the analog appeal.

Show produced by Bianca Martin. Text by Kathryn Fink.

GUESTS

Damon Krukowski, Writer-musician; podcast host and author, “The Ways of Hearing”; @dada_drummer

David Sax, Author, “Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter”; @saxdavid

Bill Skibbe, Head, Third Man Records Mastering studio in Detroit

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

© 2019 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2019 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

View this story on npr.org

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