BY: GRACE OROZCO
A record collection isn’t something that just sits in a relative’s attic anymore, gathering dust and reminiscing of better times. In an era where digital media like Pandora, iTunes and Spotify are now the most common ways of obtaining and listening to music, new and old, vinyl records are making a comeback. According to the Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl sales went from 4.5 million units in sales in 2012 to 6 million in 2013. That is a 32 percent increase compared to CD sales, which fell almost 15 percent last year.
David Bakula, senior vice president of client development and insights at Nielsen SoundScan, reassures consumers that the numbers they have gathered reflect the number of records that have been sold and not made.
Its popularity has also spawned a new holiday for music lovers: Record Store Day. Recognized the third Saturday of April each year, independently owned record stores around the world celebrate by holding massive sales and offer exclusive material.
Record Store Day was founded in 2007 by a group of record storeowners after a meeting in Baltimore. Metallica at Rasputin Music in San Francisco kicked off the first official Record Store Day on April 19, 2008. Since then, thousands of independent record stores around the world participate by holding their own batch of festivities.
Popular between the 1950s and 1990s, vinyl records throughout the years have been produced into different shapes, sizes and colors. The vinyl gramophone record consists of a disc of polyvinyl chloride plastic. The disc is engraved on both sides with a single spiral that begins on the outer edge of the record and eventually ends in the middle.
The rise in popularity of LPs is also being accompanied by the development of modernized turntables that aren’t just for DJing. New turntables are now built with USB ports and internal speakers so that folks are able to drop a record and listen right away, rather than have to hook it up to a set of bulky speakers.
Today, the numbers of classic album reissues are also on the rise. Musicians like the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones have made either some or all of their catalogs available on freshly pressed vinyl. However, original pressings are always highly sought after because of their increase in value over the years.
“I’ve been collecting records for a couple months now and I already have a decent amount,” Louis Martinez of Los Angeles said. He also said he prefers to buy and collect original pressings than buy reissues, which can sometimes get more expensive.
While some pressing companies have closed their doors due to the decrease in demand, others have remained open chugging along with the competition. Erika Records has been pressing records since 1981 after starting out as a heavy metal record label in 1980.
Since opening, the company has grown and moved around and in 2010 they settled their company in Buena Park. With 32 presses currently in operation, some automatic and other semi-automatic, Erika Records has produced a little under 2 million records in 2013. The facility is also unique for having their own machine shop, which allows them to repair and make replacement parts in house.
Ken Brisbin is a sales representative at Erika Records and has been with the company for 17 years now. He oversees all orders from start to finish, which includes “cutting the plates, ordering all the print, production of the records and packaging.”
Erika Records pride themselves in being a company that produces top quality products and have a large range of clients. “Our clientele ranges from kids in a garage putting out their first record to working with major labels like Universal and Sony,” Brisbin said. They also receive their fair share of international calls from all over the world for manufacturing.
Rifling through stacks of records and not knowing what you’ll come across is part of the fun. With technology advancing every day, vinyl will never displace digital media but the numbers show it will stay strong for every generation of kids.
“One of the biggest challenges with this new generation of vinyl lovers is people expect vinyl to sound like digital music and that will never be the case. It is all new for the younger generations, different type of sound and it is also tactile,” Brisbin said. “They can actually hold onto a 12" square album jacket with lyrics and artwork designed by the band or label group. It is not on a small computer screen.”