Why, in the age of streaming, where we have access to decades of music at the touch of a button, would anyone choose such an obsolete format as vinyl? Contrary to what avid audiophiles or your hipster friends may tell you, vinyl is inconvenient, outdated and temperamental, requiring a considerably greater amount of effort to play in comparison to the ease, accessibility and convenience of streaming.
And that’s why I love it.
Driven by the 21st century’s obsession with delivering efficiency and convenience, the digitisation of music has created a rift between listener and artist, a rift devoid of physical and emotional attachment. To fill this rift, vinyl has risen from the grave of the 1990s, enabling us to slow down our hectic lives and truly appreciate the music we love in its sheer beauty.
But how? In what can only be described as a beautiful inconvenience, vinyl engages you in a labour of love when playing your records, grabbing you by the shoulders and making you present in the music, an experience alien to that created when streaming.
Picture buying a record and excitedly running home to play it. You admire the artwork, choose a side, eagerly remove the record from its sleeve, carefully place the record on the turntable, and await the soft crackle of the needle. The whole experience is ritualistic and creates connection. Alternatively, you can open Spotify, search for an artist, choose the track you want and bang, music. Through playing vinyl, you are present in the listening experience, allowing you to appreciate an album in its entirety, not just its singles. Of course, it requires much more effort, but trust me, once you try vinyl, there’s no turning back.
Not convinced yet? Record collecting not only empowers you to enhance your listening experience, but it enriches you with the ability to physically own your favourite music, rather than just paying a fee to lend it from a streaming service. Furthermore, records are not only pieces of music, but pieces of artwork, you can immerse yourself in the world the artist has cultivated, leading to a much greater admiration for the record as a whole.
As well as this, by buying records, you are supporting artists to a much greater extent than streaming ever will achieve. Streaming fetches very little when compared to vinyl, creating a much needed revenue stream for artists increasingly reliant on relentless touring. It also helps preserve record stores, central to the music community. There is nothing more fun to a music enthusiast than the joy of crate digging through decades worth of music at a record store, providing an alternative and completely magical way to find new music, as it isn’t curated to your taste.
Today, vinyl and streaming go hand in hand, the ease and simplicity of access to thousands of artists through streaming though much more efficient has become impersonal. But when combined with the physical experience of sifting through and playing records, it can create an entirely new encounter. If you love music and seek to create a different type of listening experience, then vinyl is most definitely for you. Happy spinning.