Photo of vinyl records by Sean Dylan Belizon
Photo of vinyl records by Sean Dylan Belizon

Why vinyl records have stood the test of time

“Aloha Got Soul”, one of the known record shops on O‘ahu, best represents support for vinyl records and the overall music community on the island.

From the rise of thrifting clothes, vintage fashion, and the use of film and older digital cameras, the wave of vintage lifestyle has gradually grown in recent years. What was once considered “old” is now  the new “new.” Vinyl records fall in the same category of vintage lifestyle and deserve your attention.

These records have been around for decades, starting from their creation in the 19th century to today. This 12-inch, 33 ⅓ rpm (revolutions per minute; how fast the record is spinning) long-playing (LP) disc has been an integral part of the music scene for generations. However, vinyl records received heavy competition when the Walkman cassette player was first released to the public during 1979, revolutionizing the way people could listen to music on-the-go, from CD and digital MP3 players, to relatively new streaming services that we have now, for instance, Spotify. With these new inventions introduced in the music industry, the sales of vinyl records declined. From approximately 1984 to 1991, vinyl records were in the shadows of the new technology that took over…or were they, really?

In 2008, there was an increase in sales of vinyl records for the first time since 1984, and it was not just a normal fluctuation, but a 89% increase. Since then, the number of sales of vinyl records have only increased whereas in 2018, there has been an estimate of 9.7 million record sales, which was a 12% increase from 8.7 million in 2017. According to article, “U.S. Vinyl Album Sales Rise for 17th Straight Year — But Growth Is Slowing,” by Keith Caulfied, 2022 showed more promising results in the sales of vinyl records, as it was the second year in a row for vinyl albums to outsell CD albums and be the seventeenth consecutive year of sales of vinyl albums growing in the U.S. 43.4% of all album purchases in the U.S. were sold in vinyl LPs, along with Taylor Swift’s Midnights being the top-selling vinyl album of the year, selling 945,000 copies across all its vinyl variants and editions.

Existing record shops today can be attributed to vinyl records’ rise. In 2022, 48% or nearly half (20.92 million of 43.46 million) of all vinyl albums being sold in the U.S. were purchased in independent record stores, and the remainder were from online orders and the mass merchant category which are in-store sales from stores like Walmart and Target.

Vinyl records are extremely relevant in this generation, but there is an underlying question: why? Why is an old format brought back to this age? Why should people buy it when they have their phones?

Well, here on the island of O‘ahu, the preservation and love for vinyl records and music is strongly present with many like-minded people. Aloha Got Soul, one of the known record shops on O‘ahu, best represents support for vinyl records and the overall music community on the island.

The record label and record store first opened its doors on King Street in June of 2021. From humble beginnings, the store went onto become a globally known outlet with people visiting the shop from different states and countries.

Owner, Roger Bong, wanted Aloha Got Soul to become a “welcoming space,” giving a more organized approach focusing on independent music, labels, and artists on their label. The shop has catered towards the local music community and has rare, local gems in their stock from the past. While the store preserves local music and artists under its label, it also boasts a variety of genres of music from around the world, such as Japanese city pop.

From local customers to customers from around the world, they all visit for different reasons but what connects them all is a common goal: to experience the joy of owning (or going through) records. The older generation comes in to experience the nostalgia of what they once had during their youth, and the newer generations come in to discover something new to enjoy, even if it involves admiring artwork on albums. Everyone that comes in wants to support their favorite artists or discover new artists, and owning vinyl records is one way to do that.

Roger Bong, also a local DJ, shared why people look forward to buying records from the store. “People are looking for intentional ways to do something, records have this value or quality that transcends time. Records allow us to have this physicality with music, encounter even, that potentially makes longer lasting memories.” he said.

Another local DJ and worker at Aloha Got Soul, Oliver, stage name O’ Spliff, found vinyl records to be a good way to appreciate music the proper way. “There’s a lot of undiscovered music that is not online, a lot of sounds to explore, sample, get creative with, and enjoy.” he stated.

Max, stage name Max High, a store employee, also had a unique perspective to share about the records. He believed that there is a practical aspect to having records and that physically owning something from your favorite artist is the most exciting way to be a fan. It has an interpersonal connection that you cannot get with MP3 files.

Lowell Viloria, another DJ and owner of local streetwear brand Nameless or NMLS, described vinyl records as a concept of freedom of being open minded to one’s creativity. “Soul-searching” is what he proposed, as it puts people in an unfamiliar place when looking for gems, and gives a priceless feeling when finding something.

Everyone—young or old, experienced or new—can find the joy and importance of owning vinyl records, and it goes beyond just listening to your favorite artists. The experiences, connections and values people make from these records is what truly keeps them alive and relevant.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Mānoa Mirror Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *