Vinyl = The New Digital?

Plastic discs are still 80% of the “market” or so they say.  Still, between iTunes and pirating, the CD is finding shelf space to be increasingly difficult real estate to occupy.  No one would argue that the CD is basically on its way out.  But what industry insiders are saying is that even the days of the iPod are already numbered.  They expect in the next season that streaming and subscriptions will replace all these formats.    

I certainly enjoy all the convenience of our technology but lately I’ve been finding that I miss a physical product. 

 For starters I’ve realized that I’m much more likely to listen to a physical product than a digital one.  A digital product can get lost on my hard drive. Not misplaced necessarily but often I forget to ever listen to it. This happens especially when I purchase lots of music at one time.  The physical product is actually in my house/car and requires that I take notice of it.  
Also I’ve noticed that I enjoy the music on a physical record more. This is because I actually have to pay attention to it.  When the side is done I have to flip it over.  This automatically requires more participation on my part. When you pay more attention you hear more and notice more of what is going on.  
Beyond that, I like to feel like I have a piece of something. Especially when I really love a band.  I’m the kind of guy who buys even albums he doesn’t like if they’re by one of my favorite artists just to own their whole body of work.  Song “A” becomes more important when observed in the context of song “B, C and D”.  Besides, some of my favorite songs are songs I didn’t like the first, second or third time I heard them.    
I guess what I’m realizing is if I’m going to go with a physical product for all the above reasons, nothing is better than good old vinyl.  Don’t get me wrong vinyl will never replace the new technologies in a commercial sense but it is making a comeback and I, for one couldn’t be more excited.
So 2 things for you:
1.  Records vs Digital.  Who’s king in your opinion?
2. What is the name of your favorite record store? I want to check it out when I’m in your hometown.
  1. Duane said:

    Not to mention vinyl (supported by a respectable amplification system) has a better sound quality than the other options. With all of the post-production compression of CD's. The countless other compressions and conversions of digitally stored music on hard drives and the internet…very little audio quality is left to enjoy.Personally, I haven't yet made the conversion to vinyl and I am mostly iTunes based in some form or another…but it's only because I can't afford the alternative. But perhaps I can't afford NOT to convert 😉

  2. Totally on board with you! I bought a turntable this week and began my own record collection. I blogged about it actually, at, so your blog post made me smile. I love the EXPERIENCE of listening to vinyl. You're right, it requires more attention and more work, but the payoff is great! I also love the huge artwork. Sometimes I equate the vinyl/mp3 experience to driving a car with a manual vs. an automatic transmission, or pouring a beer into a glass so that I can look at it and smell it instead of just drinking it out of the bottle. Would love to have your albums on vinyl, dude… I've looked for them before, but alas, CD and mp3 only. 😦 sad face. Love your music JMM.

  3. raegan said:

    1. i have to say digital because i'm really severely hard on my stuff. an mp3 sounds the same no matter how many times it's been thrown on the floor or peed on by a two year old. a vinyl record in my home would inevitably end up in the dog's mouth or the boy's mouth. we have a zune that we sometimes put on "play all + shuffle" to see what we've been missing and now that we've got nkv on there it's more interesting. all of our favorite music penetrated by random bits of revelation.2. don't have one, but that's not really surprising considering my last paragraph.

  4. I totally agree. Not to mention the quality of vinyl is so much better! Records are wonderful, and in my opinion, they really can't be beat.Atlanta- Criminal RecordsAthens- Wuxtry School Kids

  5. raegan said:

    Duane:actually i don't think that it's true that vinyl is better than cds as far as audio quality. cds are uncompressed so there are no artifacts in the music UNLIKE vinyl records that will have the static and dust and scratches. some people like that because it's a throwback to the good old days and heck, it just sounds kinda cool. when i buy mp3s i like to get the 192 Mpbs or higher, but honestly, i can't hear a difference between those and the 128. but anyway, this is all coming from someone who generally prefers the studio version over live because there is always someone whistling or yelling in the background (i do however love the album "singalong" by phil wickham). so i guess authentic sound is sort of up to interpretation.

  6. Thanks for these insights, they need to be said. I think the record/CD/viynal is king. Recently I borrowed five CD's from my friend's dad. He's got at least 300 CD's. I borrowed the new Kings of Leon, REM, Bach, the Fugees and the Cranberries. Monday, Tuesday and today have been great because I've spent time at my hosue and commuting listening to each of these. You said it best, the physical product makes you take notice of it. While CDs are more likely to be lost than a viynal, you have to actually put in in the CD player to listen to it. That in itself is a kind of commitment, and that requires you to spend time listening to it. The first two tracks on the new Kings of Leon CD litereally make my drive home feel epic. If they are on MP3 player, I might have switched the track faster or switched to another band, but since there are only 11 songs, I must find the best on the Kings of Leon CD. The result is better in my opinion. On the other hand, I cannot understand REM. I tried listening, and I will try again later this week, but I don't think I get them.Records are king because it takes longer to put new music in(and not allowing you to resort to the same old songs), therefore making you commit to a song. Winston-Salem, NCRecord Exchange(beside Toys-R-US)

  7. Duane said:

    Raegan. Music is becoming more and more compressed in post-production because that is what the general consumers ears are getting used to – and it makes the music sound louder. You can do a little research on "loudness wars" (concerning music and production) to get an idea of what I mean (you may already be familiar with this). The truth is that in the manufacturing of vinyl records, post-production facilities generally do not compress the studio mix nearly as much as post-production procedures for compact discs.Again, I think it takes a true audiophile with a committed budget to make this happen. The record itself has to be treated properly and played on a respectable system. As I said, I'm not committed enough to be able to make the financial investment to convert to vinyl at this point (turntable, ampllification, finding and purchasing all the great albums I've already got stored digitally…).Anyway, I'm probably making a bit more of this than is merited, so I'll go ahead and hush. Thanks for the good bit of discussion!

  8. Brian said:

    vinyl fo your music, by the way. i would be first in line should 180g of the medicine find it's way into your cabinet. my neighborhood record store is "off the record" in north park, san diego, ca.peace.-brian

  9. I buy MP3s for the price, then I like to burn them to CD for the aforementioned "something I can hold" reasons. I loathe mix CDs. I want the entire record, as the artist put it together. I respect that the artist spent a good deal of time deliberating the order of the tracks.As for the analog vs digital… digital all the way, baby!

  10. Keith said:

    I still buy CDs, because I like to have a physical product. It also provides me with an uncompressed backup. I buy all my music through on-line outlets, so I don't have a favorite record store.

  11. Luke W. said:

    Physical product over digital. I have the same problem I download tunes of music at one time and get some music "lost". I just found your music when a co-worker, Stephen Brewster, showed me and other interns your music. I got both CDs on iTunes and love your music. Enjoying the blog as well. Keep doing what you do. Favorite music store in my hometown (Tuscaloosa, AL) is OZ music. In the town I am in now (Mobile, AL) I haven't been to one yet, other than Target.

  12. I haven't had much experience with vinyl, but I tend to prefer CD's over digital. Oddly enough, it's mostly because my computer is ancient (going on 10 years, now) and only has so much harddrive space to work with (6GB). So, when I buy digital music, I try to burn it onto disc as soon as possible to save space. And, like you said, it not only forces you to pay attention better and commit to an album, it's much harder to forget about a CD.Gloucester, MA has 2 music stores, both on Main St. I don't remember their names, but it's easy to find them, because there's one near the beginning of the road, and one at the very end of the road. Both have some very interesting stuff. Yep, they're on a one-way street.

  13. They are digital in the way they are made, right, but they are a physical product. I answered your question as "Physical product versus MP3s." I haven't heard a vinyal played since like 1989. People say it's better. I guess an advantage of viynal over CD is that you can't burn a viynal album. It seems I have a big stack of burnt CD's that I don't like anymore with bands I only listened to once. Perhaps vinyal albums are even more of a commitment. All you have is what you buy.

  14. arin said:

    i love vinyl. im in the same boat. I prefer listening to vinyl becasue of the listening experiece. i pay more attention to what im listeing to, and its more of an experience, i actually sit down to listen to a record and i take care of the physical product. plus the added benefit of vinyl these days is that most include a free digital download. if i like it enough i will import it to my mac/ipod.havent found any good vinyl shops in fort mill/charlotte area yet. any recommendations?are you playing anywhere in the area soon?arin.

  15. When you're in central NJ, check out…Princeton Record Exchange, Princeton NJ Vinyl, Fords NJ you live for the first time at Purple Door this past weekend, both sets were so great.Good guitar tone isn't so bad either…

  16. Mammoth Music in Anchorage, AK has got some vinyls. they are bringing it back and i am currently searching for a decent record player. When are you coming to play in Alaska? I want to buy your vinyl.Thanks for the inspiration, encouragement, and for being real.

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