Use 163 Year Old Storage Medium for Music


Colby Quinn '24

“To Pimp A Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar spins on a contemporary record player.

Colby Quinn, Staff Writer

Humans may cease to admit to it, but we’re all scared. Despite nearly eight billion of us all commonly held down by earth’s gravity, we are utterly alone. All we have is each other, and even that sense of community has dissipated.

After astounding discoveries from their intended missions of exploring Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, Voyager 1 and 2 continued into deep space. Non sequiturs aside, both Voyager spacecrafts will serve under the umbrella of one common purpose; to inform extraterrestrial lifeforms of our existence. Fifteen billion miles away floats humanity’s greatest, yet still extremely slim, chance to find its match. 

Aboard both Voyager spacecrafts are the “golden records.” Two gold plated records, which, when decoded, present humanity’s proudest achievements, diagrams of our diverse life forms, images of our beautiful home, and examples of our diverse culture. Our introduction to alien life is etched into a vinyl LP.                                                                                                     

Thomas Edison’s advancements of French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott’s vibrating pen were introduced to the world as the Phonautograph in 1859. A century later, CBS introduced the world’s first Long Play (LP) record. Twelve inches wide, spinning at 33 ⅓ rpm, and usually lasting ~24 minutes per side; the LP is largely unchanged from its earliest ancestor. 

The EP/LP vinyl format crescendo in 1978, selling 341.3 million units (via Spin) before cascading to a mere 900,000 sales in 2006. Yet, since 2006, the EP/LP has consistently grown in an increasingly digital world; reaching one billion dollars in sales this past year for the first time in nearly four decades. 

Streaming services cost less monthly than an unopened vinyl and CDs are the highest listening quality music has achieved; so why are vinyl resurging?

Vinyl is a novelty, and so is the serotonin-inducing feeling of rummaging through a record store, finding a favorite record, and spinning all sides.”

The Pandemic chained us into our homes, leaving a yearning desire within for live music’s personable feeling. A life without live performances constitutes the same feeling as not being able to hug a loved one, especially in a time of need. Crazy thing is, both situations arose in the pandemic, which led to the adaption of our compromised circumstances.

But vinyl will live on forever. Our reckless pandemic spending created a beast inside of us; the record addiction. It is nearly impossible to stop buying records after the initial purchase. Take me as living proof of this. My first purchase of OutKast’s best record, Aquemini, spiraled into nearly forty more, with no end in sight. It’s an extremely expensive addiction, and on top of it, I pay ten dollars a month for Spotify Premium. Worth it.

Comparing vinyl listening to streaming is like the choice of riding your bike to school or driving. Absolutely, your car is faster, easier, and requires little effort. Cycling, however, is refreshing, personal, and it connects you with the world our creator crafted. 

In my hands, I hold an artist’s work. I own it. The culmination of their blood, sweat, and tears is something to buy, not rent.

This poll has ended.

Do you listen to vinyl?


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