Is Vinyl Making a Comeback?

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August 2, 2010 by DJ Elroy

I overheard some friends talking the other night about how vinyl is making a comeback.

Huh? Did I miss something?

Apparently more DJs have been seen around town carrying vinyl to gigs this summer… This led me to the next question: Which gigs? The big clubs here in town may still have turntables hidden away somewhere in a back room like a retarded stepchild, but the DJ booths are all digital now. Yes, some jocks may still need the decks to partner up with a laptop, but not to play vinyl. So where are these guys playing?

OK, maybe the old-school heads are boppin’ around the city, hunched over like a wax-slinging shirpa under the weight of an evenings worth of music. Maybe you’ll find them playing some hole-in-the-wall or underground gigs on a mismatched pair of Techs with a ghetto-rigged skate weight and a headshell that’s been taped onto a tonearm suffering from scoliosis.

But it’s not the norm. Hell, half (or more!) of the DJs playing gigs nowadays have never even handled a 12″, let alone spun a set that required more than pushing ‘play’ and giving the crowd some fist-pumps.

Sure, vinyl is still alive and well. For collectors and die-hards. For purists. There is still a relatively healthy used vinyl market for the enthusiasts. And some big labels are still living in the past, still trying to please those oh-gees that used to be the only ones that mattered. Still willing to take a loss in exchange for the bragging rights that they still press 12″ records. (Is this something to brag about or something to be embarrassed of?) Vinyl is good for hype. Promotions. It’s something tangible for the collectors. An advertising tool for small/indy labels and artists.

But for serious releases? No.

Over the past several years I’ve noticed more and more fire sales from the big labels trying to clear out their inventory of vinyl. Get it off the boat before the market completely dries up and the boat sinks for good. Have you tried to find someplace for plates, press, distribution lately? Good luck.

I thought this issue had been put to rest years ago. Not about the sound quality (yes, vinyl is still number one)… But it’s not really about the sound quality anymore, is it? “Good enough” is good enough. And organization, ease of acquiring, use, collecting, technology, and all the other pro-digital arguments outweigh any benefits of the dinosaur disc.

And on a side-note, CASSETTES aren’t coming back either. I’ve seen a few articles and conversations on the web and… no. Not gonna happen. A gimmick (and a clever one!) to be sure. But something to replace – or even live side by side with – digital? Never.

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