Vinyl record renaissance: Wax makes a comeback

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People who gave away their record players and record collections years ago may be regretting it now.  A vinyl record renaissance is underway, thanks to a new generation of music fans who prefer vinyl. In fact, young people are fueling a 33-percent jump in sales so far this year.  As Nancy Loo reports, in tonight’s Cover Story, it’s keeping some local record stores alive.

“This might be my favorite album of theirs”  says 14 year old Brian Johnson as he pulls a Led Zeppelin record out of a milk crate.  It may be an old music format, but among those pushing high fidelity to a new high are high schoolers.  “Records, I think the way they sound and how imperfect they are, almost gives them a sense of being and like, what’s the word, it gives them a lot more character.” This new wave of music appreciation among teenagers and college kids has helped to keep stories like Val’s Halla in Oak Park in business.  And the owner of Val’s Halla, Val Camilletti, says that’s not spin. “Vinyl’s very hot.”  Val almost packed her business in last year.  She’s thrilled that kids have turned the tables. “They buy music with the same kind of passion that their parents and grandparents bought the music from me.”  College student and record collector Matt Richter first came to Val’s with his “hippie” dad.  “If I didn’t find vinyl, I wouldn’t be able to find half the music that I have now.”   A big part of the appeal for young vinyl fans is the hunt for classic rock and other musical gems. Brian tells us about a few of his finds.  “There’s definitely a thrill in going into a store and finding an album you’ve been looking for for like two years.  And that’s happened to me a few times.”   We asked Camilletti what kids are buying.  “The first thing they buy is what the generation of record buyers bought, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Stones, the Doors the music that was during that classic, classic period.´ The classics inspired Grammy winning rocker Lenny Kravitz.  “Personally, I love it,” says Kravitz.  “I grew up on vinyl, old school- the smell of it.”   The old school trend has most new releases also out on vinyl, and they’re packaged with digital codes for online downloading.  “It seems like so many kids, and around the world I’m seeing, are really into vinyl,” says Kravitz.  “And having that experience of taking it, putting it on, and waiting for one side to end and turning it over.”  Matt far prefers vinyl over digital. “It’s not like a CD where you put it in and push a button.” Brian  also likes the tangible experience of vinyl.  “The sound of a record is probably not like anything else.  Because digital music and CDs are so digitually cleaned up and remastered and all that.”  “They want the vinyl,” says Val,  “and now they have convinced themselves that no matter what, it’s gonna sound better in vinyl, even if it’s digital.” Val says the vinyl trend has former customers coming back around.  “It’s like oh, vinyl’s really cool now.  Now, I’ll dig out the old record player.  We’ve probably sold more needles in the last year than we’ve sold in the last 15 years.”  But with young collectors, it’s the music that brings them in, and they plan to keep the records playing.  Nancy asks Brian, “This is part of your life for life?”  “It very much is.  I feel like it’s gonna stay around.  More than likely when I have kids, I’m gonna pass these records down to them.  And I hope that they continue on with it.”  In Oak Park, Nancy Loo, WGN News.”

While vinyl sales still make up less than 10% of all albums sold, major artists are behind a major surge in popularity this year.  New releases by Daft Punk and the Arctic Monkeys have helped to push U.S. record sales to it’s best year in a decade.  You can find Val’s Hall by clicking here.  And please share this story with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

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