From 1960s rock by artists like Cream, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles to 90s grunge and modern releases, vinyl records remain a popular alternative to the world of digital music.
Statistics show that vinyl record sales have experienced consistent growth in the United States since 2006, with a reported 18.84 million vinyl records sold in 2019, an increase of 14.5% over the previous year.
Those living in Owensboro that enjoy dropping a needle into the groove don’t have to look far for their favorite LPs, thanks to TD’s Tuff Decisions at 2201 Frederica St. and Moneytree Book & Music Exchange, 2125 Triplett St.
Tom Deyton has been selling vinyl records out of his store for 40 years and has seen the changes in the record collecting hobby throughout that time.
“... Back then, it was all classic, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and it kind of disappeared for a while,” he said from behind the counter of his shop. “I had an attic full of records and people would bring records in wanting me to buy them and I would go, what’s with this?”
It was a time when more and more people were willing to forgo their record collections in exchange for the convenience offered by compact discs. Now, that trend has reversed.
“It just started picking up again and it was like boom, the same thing happened to CDs,” Deyton said. “I was buying CDs and everybody was flipping through the records.”
According to the Recording Industry Association of America’s 2020 year-end report, new vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time since 1986, growing 28% in value year-over-year to
$626 million. Revenues from CDs declined 23% to $483 million.
While concepts like Record Store Day, an annual celebration of local record stores featuring limited release vinyl albums has brought attention to the modern vinyl industry, Deyton said he focuses on original releases of classic material.
“I stick with what I like and what I know, and people seem to be pretty happy with that,” he said.
Deyton said he likes to offer his customers a range of options, even for the same album. There could a copy for sale for $3, $10 or $40, depending on condition and rarity.
“If they have scratches on them, they go into the $2 piles,” he said. “Or if you want to spend $40 for the promotional LP with the poster and it has only been played one time, it is going to cost you more.”
“I want them to have a ‘tuff’ decision, though,” he said.
Bill Foy, manager of Moneytree Book & Music Exchange, said the store also deals in primarily used records, with about 30-40% of its business coming from used vinyl sales.
In addition to classic rock, Foy said 1990s rock and grunge music doesn’t sit around the shop too long before finding a new home.
“In the 1990s, they stopped pressing a lot of albums,” he said. “Stuff like Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, they didn’t make a lot of those, so they are worth quite a bit.”
As far as age range, Foy said he sees, “everything from 10 years old to 80 years old.”
“We have people come in with their kids because their kids like vinyl and we have guys that have been collecting since they were kids that come in.”
As far as the future of vinyl collecting goes, Deyton said he believes it is here to stay.
“I don’t see how it can go anywhere,” he said. “There are too many people that are into it, too many ages of people that are into it. ...It is an investment; records are an investment now.”
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, email@example.com, 270-228-2837