PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While Grammy performers are topping the digital music charts, they can probably expect a bump in physical sales too. But not on CD — believe it or not, many more people are now buying vinyl records.
“It’s an affordable art. Like I can’t buy a Warhol original, but I could buy the original Velvet Underground record with Andy Warhol art on it. I couldn’t listen to that painting. I can listen to this record,” Milkcrate Cafe owner Adam Porter said.
In the 1930s, the RCA vinyl record first made its debut as a music medium people could finally feel in their hands. Now 90 years later, people are still reaching for the records.
“Kids will come and buy a hip-hop record, a jazz record, a rock record,” Repo Records owner Dan Matherson said. “Billy Joel is huge again. Fleetwood Mac, all those bands from the ’70s. Billie Eilish is huge. Frank Ocean is huge.”
In 2019, a reported $224 million was spent on vinyl, which left the CD in its wake for the first time since 1986.
Surprised? Well, so were some Philadelphia record stores.
“We have people — older people in their 40s and 50s — who got rid of their records or threw them out or gave them away and now they’re rebuying everything again,” Matherson said. “It’s so funny. It’s like they wish they didn’t throw them out, but they did because nobody — nobody thought this was going to happen.
“The mid-90s, CDs just blew up and then you know, they kind of took over records. Records slowly started disappearing. Bands like The Cure, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, you couldn’t get those records unless they were the original records. That’s why there were so expensive.
“Now you can get, they’ve reissued almost anything that you want to get. It saved the record companies. It saved the record business. It saved the record stores.”
That has brought the value down on vinyl records if you’re looking to sell.
“Everybody thinks Michael Jackson’s Thriller record is worth $100,” Matherson said. “OK, when he died, of course, people were overpaying for it and people come in and they’re like, ‘Oh, I saw on the internet this is going for $100.’ I take them, we have this record. We’re selling it for $10.”
Unless you had that needle in a haystack.
“Everybody thinks they have something,” Porter said, “but only an expert can delve deeper. We’ve had records that have sold for $2,000 or $3,000 — like rare jazz records, rare soul records, rare world records. They’re only becoming more valuable.”
But no matter what, they’re selling for, vinyl records are still here — regardless of streaming and still have us hooked on a feeling.
“There’s just something magical about this 12 by 12 piece of cardboard with a vinyl record inside of it that you actually have to touch, flip over half-way through or you can move over to your favorite song,” Porter said. “You can’t stream an experience.”