Dust off the Turntable: Record Sales Jump

Though records left the mainstream by the early '90s, disc jockeys and the hip-hop culture helped bring them back.

Rosenthal is a Plan II honors student and advertising major at the University of Texas. He has grown up around records and has continued to surround himself with 12-inch vinyls.

He doesn't have a job and sometimes skips meals to save money. In his modest apartment in west campus, though, sits more than $1,000 worth of DJ equipment.

"I got into records and wanted to start DJ'ing," Rosenthal said. "But I didn't really have the means to do so."

During the last three years, Rosenthal saved money from summer jobs to buy two turntables and a modest record collection that sits in crates beneath his worktable.

He collects mainly hip-hop and spins for free at his friends' parties. He is currently listening to "Mothership Connection" by Parliament and other funk artists like George Clinton.

"I often buy used records because it's the only way to get a lot of stuff and it's cheaper," Rosenthal said. "And I'm poor."

'Vinyl Happy Hour'

It is not uncommon to find used vinyls on sale for a dollar at places like End of an Ear or Waterloo Records. Even new records are roughly the same price or even cheaper than their CD equivalent.

Waterloo offers a "vinyl happy hour" every Tuesday from 7 to 11 p.m. During those four hours, record collectors may peruse the record collection and purchase all regular-priced vinyls at a 10 percent discount.

"Record sales are going up quite a bit," Waterloo manager Paul Mason said. "For our store, sales have gone up about 35 percent since last year. Vinyl is growing nationally."

Under the big red-and-white sign that shouts "VINYLS!" at Waterloo Records are hundreds of new and used vinyls. In keeping with today's technology, many record labels offer free digital downloads of the same album that a customer is purchasing on vinyl. Now people may listen to the album on their MP3 players as well as own a collectible version of it.

"Music has gone digital," Mason said. "But vinyl is very tangible. And people don't want the in-between format of a CD."

Mason is a record collector. Though he doesn't know an exact figure, he guesses that he owns between 3,000 and 4,000 vinyls. He has been working at Waterloo for 13 years and has been collecting for more than 25 years. He and other collectors like Carlisle believe that the record market will continue to grow.

"There's just something so human about records," Carlisle said. "Things can only go so digital. Until we turn into 'borgs, they will always be around."

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