Driven by nostalgia and pandemic angst, vinyl is thriving in the digital age – could CDs be next?

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Day in and day out, the folks at Glebe Video International can see a steady stream of customers entering the Compact Music store a few doors down Bank Street. As vinyl record sales continue to soar – in part due to the pandemic – Compact Music is booming while Glebe Video has recently relied on GoFundMe donations to stay afloat.

Both companies offer retro entertainment options, but Glebe Video is one of the few surviving video rental stores in the city, while there are 13 dedicated record stores in the Ottawa area. Consumers strongly support physical music, but not physical video.

At least not yet.

The collapse of the economy during the COVID-19 crisis, the lack of disposable income among many consumers and the increase in the number of streams did not prevent vinyl record sales from reaching their highest level in 30 years in 2021.

Vinyl record sales rose 21% in Canada last year, and the week ending Dec. 23 saw the highest number of global vinyl record sales of any week since 1991, according to an industry watcher. industry. CRM data.

There is clearly a societal itch that vinyl scratches. It’s such an intense itch that an analog-era retail industry that should be failing is actually thriving in the digital age.

Stepping through the doors of a record store feels like entering a portal into music history. Compact Music lines its walls with colorful albums, memories and photos. Every step feels guests with a dose of nostalgia for a time many haven’t even experienced.

In 2019, 42% of vinyl buyers were under 34, according to statistics.com.

There is a mystique that attracts young collectors to the store. Musician and record collector Ben Boone, 21, says: “There is a magic around certain eras of music. The idea of ​​60s free living and rock and roll – putting out a record for me is just trying to take a break from the world and travel back.

The idea of ​​going back in time is central to Toronto therapist and vinyl collector Mitch Evans. “There’s an element that no one is really comfortable in 2022, they just want to be anywhere else,” he said. “Who wants to live in the current reality of the world? I think you see young people romanticizing the past and older generations wanting to relive their youth.

“There is a magic around certain eras of music. The idea of ​​60s free living and rock and roll – putting out a record for me is just trying to take a break from the world and travel back.

— Ben Boone, musician and record collector

What is nostalgic is constantly changing as people age. There is a nostalgic arms race in all forms of media, sex and the city‘s “And just like that. . .” for Spider-Man: No Coming Home – TV and movie reboots that attract large audiences.

James Boyd, co-owner of Compact Music, predicts an uptick in CD sales given the current trend.

“Kids growing up in the 2000s will show such cool CDs,” he said.

The year 2021 marked the first time since 2004 that there has been a slight increase in CD sales, according to MRC Data, a compiler of music industry sales figures.

If walking into a music store is like walking into a rock and roll museum, a DVD store is like walking through a movie archive. Glebe International Video has long gray cabinets filled with DVDs and Blu Rays stacked on the shelves.

Sales of physical videos have grown from $6.1 billion in 2011 to $1.2 billion in 2021, according to Cable.

Canadian actor Chris Makepeace, star of the 1979 motion picture comedy Meatballs and 1986 horror comedy Vampsaid he still enjoys collecting DVDs and Blu-Ray discs and credits much of his success to the rise of home video.

“When I was really making films (in the 1970s and 1980s), I was making these mid-budget films that just don’t get made today. Home video gave studios more ways to get their money back.

Still, Makepeace said it doesn’t expect physical movies to make a comeback like vinyl.

“The movies are pretty cheesy. Collecting movies isn’t really something to show, it’s almost something to hide.

Evans echoed this, saying he collects records because “there’s a cool factor that CDs and DVDs can’t replicate. Seeing the disc spin and the size of holding it in your hands is what makes it popular.

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