Off the record

Cullen Ronan

Saturday, April 22 marks the 10th annual “Record Store Day.” Music fans around the world will flock to participating records stores across the nation to get their hands on unique vinyl, CD and promotional items made exclusively for the occasion.

“Record Store Day” is held to, “celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally,” according to the Record Store Day website.

Within recent years, vinyl has undergone a resurrection, after falling into obscurity in the mid-to-late-1990s at the hands of the CD. As of late, the discarded medium has become a novelty around those in the indie rock community, slowly leaking its way out into the mainstream.

In a day and age when consumers are surrounded by MP3s and online streaming, the idea of holding a physical piece of music has become an afterthought. But for some, being able to touch the work of a musician can bear the same importance that readers have when acquiring actual novels, as compared to e-books.

The digitization of music has made production flawless, masking every sound not intended on the recording. This, in turn, gives records a more polished sound that some fans don’t always  appreciate. LPs allow fans in search of a medium that lets them to experience their favorite artists in raw form a chance to appreciate additional intricacies.

Low-quality MP3 files are consumed for their convenience. Online streaming sites such as Pandora and Spotify have made listening to music much easier than it has been in the past. But all of this comes at a price, because listeners no longer have the chance to find that same level of connection with the music.

While some may view the act of buying and playing records as an unnecessary hassle to listen to music they can get for $8 a month on Spotify, this form of consumption is missing the genuine experience that comes with it. The mechanical action of putting on a record is more than just pressing buttons; it involves gentle and precise movements, and the music you so desperately want to hear is the reward.

There’s a certain magic of holding the LP in between your fingers. The art, dwarfing the size of the version you’d find in a CD case, becomes easier to analyze and appreciate, adding yet another nuance to the experience.

Whether or not you prefer the sound of a vinyl recording compared to the CD or MP3 counterpart, it’s easy to convince oneself that an LP is an all-encompassing experience, worthy of a few extra dollars and inches of storage space.