At the beginning of the digital age, music store owners began to worry. Why would anyone buy the physical version of an album that takes up a tremendous amount of space? Especially when that same music takes up next to nothing on an MP3 player or computer.
Lucky for music store owners, vinyl has had a resurgence over the last decade, as millennials and baby boomers alike have found nostalgia in the grooves. Mark Woehrle, store manager of Cheap Thrills, has seen it first hand.
“Vinyl sales are growing in younger demographics,” Woehrle said. He pointed to the music side of the store — which splits space with Captain Nemo, a comic and gaming store.
“The only thing that’s on this side of the store that is on any kind of an incline (in sales) is records.” — Mark Woehrle, Cheap Thrills manager
Woehrle went on to say that the store doesn’t make money on the most current popular records that labels press — partly due to the fact it’s so expensive for the labels to produce. The way that Woehrle’s store and others make money on records is selling old vinyl. He said that the store has the biggest inventory it has ever had, which helps sales because of variety.
Since box stores such as Best Buy and Target have simplified their music selections to the Top 40, music lovers have to turn to local record stores to get the harder-to-find gems.
“People come in here and complain because they used to go to a box store and they would have a decent collection of CDs and now they don’t,” Woehrle said. “It’s Top 40 or maybe Top 20 in three genres and that’s about it.”
Woehrle says he thinks that music stores will always exist, but will become the hunting grounds of collectors and people looking for “odd ball stuff” — things that have been passed over and forgotten, but still have value.
It’s good to hear that local music stores are still keeping their heads above water in the digital era.
Last week, Bob Dylan became the first songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The award immediately caused controversy, as some argued that some of Dylan’s peers were more deserving for their works. I doubt that many of those same peers have matched his output and quality over the course of his career.
Dylan, now at age 75, has written songs for 57 years. Many of those songs would be right at home at an open-mic show in a coffee shop or analyzed by college classes.
To say that Dylan is undeserving is a discredit to his work. His songs have been included in poetry books, including the Oxford Book of American Poetry and the Cambridge University Press according to the New York Times.
This is not the first time he has been pioneer. 50 years ago, Dylan began playing folk songs on electric guitar, contrary to what was popular. After he conquered that, he went country. The dreary world of literature was in desperate need of a mix up. Who better to do it than Dylan?
As Dylan has written before, times they are a-changing.
In a study by Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martens, it was found that there is no correlation between pirating music and digital music sales. In fact, it leads to more sales. The study additionally found that licensed music streams also don’t affect digital music sales, which is somewhat surprising. It goes to show that actually owning something, whether it be physical or otherwise, is still important in today’s society.
The study focused on clickstream data over 16,500 different European consumers. In the conclusion, Aguiar and Martens state that they found no evidence of displacement. Additionally, they found that there was a two percent overlap between licensed and unlicensed websites:
If this estimate is given a causal interpretation, clicks on licensed purchase websites would have been 2% lower in the absence of unlicensed downloading websites.
Aguiar and Martens say that without pirating, music downloads would drop by two percent. Given that music sales have been falling since the arrival of the MP3, two percent is a number that would likely get the attention of music executives everywhere.
They go on to say that consumers view streaming as a compliment to music purchasing, rather than an alternative. It will be interesting to see if that remains the case as the tail end of the Millennial Generation grows up. Many of them never experienced physical music, and soon some will not have experienced MP3s.