Setting the record straight: the return of physical music

Setting the record straight: the return of physical music

Hannah Huff, Staff Writer

With record displays popping up in stores like Target, and record players being sold at popular stores for young people like Urban Outfitters, there’s no denying how popular physical music has become among teenagers. Despite being able to access digital music with ease, teenagers are at the forefront of a recent resurgence in the popularity of physical music, such as vinyl records, CDs and cassettes. 

A large part of the resurgence of CDs and records is that many people have started to realize that there are lots of benefits to owning music physically, rather than just sticking to streaming services like Spotify.

One of the greatest reasons to consider is that by buying physical media you are showing your support. When you purchase an artist’s album on vinyl, the artist makes a greater cut of the money than they would if you were to stream their album on a streaming service. 

Needlejuice Records logo from their website, where you can purchase records.

You are also supporting small businesses by buying vinyl, such as record-pressing plants and local music stores. For example, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase my favorite album on vinyl from a small record pressing business called Needlejuice Records, based out of Nashville, Tenn. It felt great to know that I was supporting actual people, not just a corporate entity like Spotify or Apple Music.

Another issue with large corporate streaming services is the lack of security. Recently, well known artists Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removed their music from Spotify as a protest towards the company’s support of podcaster Joe Rogan. Fans of Young and Mitchell can no longer stream their music on Spotify however, fans who own their content on vinyl, CD or cassette have nothing to worry about. By owning music physically, you are ensuring your ability to listen to the music for as long as you want, no matter the circumstances. 

Another practical benefit of owning music physically is the difference in quality. The audio quality of a CD is noticeably greater than that of what you will find on a streaming service and the audio quality of a vinyl record can make for a much more charming and enjoyable experience than listening through headphones.

Not all benefits of owning physical music are completely tangible; there are many benefits that are for emotional purposes as well.

 A big reason why many students buy vinyl is because the album art is aesthetically pleasing and fun to display. I personally have multiple albums hung on my wall simply because I enjoy the way they look.

Record covers with creative album art have become a popular wall decoration.

Another simple reason is that vinyl and CDs are fun to collect. Going to a music store and hunting your favorite albums is a fun way to pass the time and the feeling of curating a collection that you are proud of is unmatched. 

Finally, owning music physically makes your experience with the music more personal. Being able to hold the music in your hands feels very different than clicking play on your phone. The experience of setting your newly purchased record on the turntable for the first time is unlike anything else in the world. 

Physical music purchasing being a phenomenon on the rise is not unfounded. There are many logistically sound and aesthetically motivating reasons to purchase music physically, which is why I don’t see this trend dying down any time soon. Though there are still benefits to streaming music, such as the convenience of having everything on your phone, the benefits of owning music physically are important to think about when purchasing new music. So the next time you fall in love with an album, consider heading down to the record store and buying it for yourself.