Urban Outfitters is now the leading seller of vinyl albums which have seen huge increases in overall sales during the past few years.
When cassette tapes came out, people said vinyl was dead. When CDs came out they again said "yeah, this time they're really dead." When sites like Napster started and downloadable music became all the rage, they said "OK, vinyl seriously has to be dead now." But the format still lives and is doing better than it has in years. As Buzzfeed points out, the typical age of Urban Outfitters' customers is between 18-28, which means the people who are snapping up albums grew up with the ability to easily download and stream music online. Yet they still want vinyl LPs:
Vinyl records have been a rare and unusual bright spot for the music industry in recent years, as noted in the chart below, starting with the launch of Record Store Day in 2007. Sales of vinyl LPs rose to 6.1 million albums last year, the highest since at least 1991, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and sales this year are on track to beat that. Just in June, Jack White set a vinyl sales record with his album Lazaretto.
That translates to good business for Urban Outfitters (when they're not busy selling crap like this). The chain sells vinyl by offering space on its shelves to record vendors. I'm just surprised at how expensive the albums in the store always are, but that doesn't seem to be putting off shoppers. But Joe Veix of Death and Taxes says that's because most of the buyers—the high schoolers that make up a bulk of the market—aren't buying the albums because they are music purists:
[Vinyl] is now primarily purchased as a fashion accessory, purchased not for the music it contains, but for the lifestyle it conveys. The market for LPs is now driven by high schoolers (Urban's main customers, though they're struggling to get college kids to shop at their stores again) looking to purchase into a false idea of analog hipness.
I don't have a particularly impressive vinyl collection, but we do buy and listen to records often. While there's definitely an element of warmhearted nostalgia that brings back memories of the good old days, for me it's more a question of getting in the habit of experiencing some elements of my life that are not connected to a computer. It's also why I still read paper books and probably why I restore furniture.
Next up, my campaign to bring back the 8 track! Let's make the dream a reality, people!
Image via Shutterstock.