As the needle is positioned on the turntable, you’re careful not to destroy its antiquity. You anticipate the imperfect scratch that comes before the track. The partnership between the elegant piano and confident saxophone fills the room. They are more than just ordinary instruments. The song is a wordless story that consumes you and what’s left is simply music.
Many music fans would agree that vinyl offers a unique experience that modern CDs merely cannot. Vinyl is about relating to the track, feeling what emotion is to be elicited. Today, technology has revolutionized that experience because it has changed the ease of music’s accessibility.
“You have access to your music everywhere. It’s background noise that you have,” Rachel Roberts said. “I always see people with ear buds all the time and it’s like a soundtrack to their life but they’re talking with people, engaging with people so they’re not focusing.”
Roberts, a former flute performer for the Houston Symphony as well as the Atlanta Symphony, is now the director of entrepreneurial musicianship at the New England Conservatory (NEC). She explains that very few people actually sit down and enjoy the music. Only a select few actually listen to what’s being played.
“It’s the experience of consuming music versus it being a passive sound track,” Roberts said.
Northeastern student Andrew Gifford, a sophomore music industry major and vice president of Green Line Records, believes that the younger generation hears stories that romanticize vinyl and want to understand a time before digital.
“They look for vinyl as a way out because they are unsatisfied with the world in which they live,” Gifford said. “A simplified version of a record is when a digital file is created, like MP3s, which is just an algorithm. It’s a particular math formula.”
There seems to be an intangible element vinyl possesses that is lacking in our modern CDs. It can be difficult to appreciate an older product when technology helps dictate popular culture.
“People of a certain generation want something they can hold,” Nell Buck, a former producer at the music label Nettwerk Music Group said. “The old-aged arguments that vinyl is a richer sonic experience, all of that is still true but there’s nothing like putting a record on a turntable and hearing it.”
Michelle Conceison, a music industry professor at Northeastern and manager of the music marketing and management firm Market Monkeys, doesn’t necessarily agree that vinyl is superior to CDs.
“Vinyl hasn’t remained popular. It is experiencing a resurgence,” Conceison said. “It’s not better or worse. It’s just different. The mindset of a listener is different. They are looking for a mood experience more than they are looking for a party song.”
Vinyl seems to be able to satisfy the emotional aspect that CDs cannot. It is music that is able to consume you. CDs on the other hand, fulfill the needs and trends of today’s society. It is easily accessible and can be listened to anywhere.
“Regardless of genre,” Buck said, “music is critical to people’s life.”