If anyone thought vinyl records were a thing of the past, 2014 proved otherwise.

According to financial reports from Nielsen and Soundscan, vinyl record sales in the U.S. were at an all-time high since the companies began tracking sales of vinyl records in 1993.

In total, the industry saw overall sales of 9.2 million vinyl records in 2014 in the U.S., an increase of 52 percent from 2013.

Infographic: Vinyl Comes Back From Near-Extinction | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

With music distribution trending away from the sales of physical records, digital-record sales have dominated the music market in recent years.

A popular local record store’s sales reflected the national vinyl trend.

Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Music & Movies since 2006, said he has seen an increase in vinyl record sales from previous years at his store. 

After moving from the West University Avenue location, Hear Again has seen more consistent business at its new location, 201 SE First St.

“It’s the sound,” Schaer said, referring to why customers prefer vinyl records. “You can’t beat the sound quality.” 

He added, “When you go to someone’s house and hear an album you know on LP, it’s a mind-opening experience.”

Schaer believes that digital distribution has only helped the sales of vinyl records. 

“You’re not going to listen to a record in the car or on a jog,” Schaer said. “When they’re sitting in their living rooms they’re going to go for the record because the sound quality is just going to be better.”

Schaer’s assertion that vinyl records offer superior sound isn’t just an opinion — there’s science behind it.

James Paul Sain, a UF professor of composition, wrote in an email that there are multiple reasons a person would want to buy or collect vinyl records in the digital age. 

“Technically, the vinyl recording is a closer analog to the actual waveform produced by the music in that the wave is directly represented by the groove in the record,” Sain said. 

In line with the dominance of digital media, streaming services and digital downloads remain the two most popular options customers use to listen to music.

UF fine arts student Patrick Smith said he once received a vinyl record as a gift, but digital services remain his first choice when listening to music.

“I actually just got a Spotify account,” said Smith, 24. “I can appreciate vinyl. I think the only reason I haven’t gotten into vinyl is because it’s so expensive.”

Despite being outdated technology, it appears vinyl records are here to stay as long as labels continue to adapt to the current trends in music such as Spotify and iTunes.

“While it is impossible to predict (the future of vinyl records sales),” Sain wrote, “consumption of vinyl is likely to continue to rise if past trends are followed.”

 

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 1/13/2015 under the headline “"Vinyl records back on the turntable in 2014, data shows]

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