WOOSTER — When Aerosmith released their 4.3 megabyte song "Head First" as a technical experiment more than 20 years ago, it started a virtual avalanche in the music industry.
According to Apple, the 25 billionth song was downloaded on iTunes in 2013. But today, there is a push to bring back the sound of the vinyl record that has filled the air with music since its inception in the 1800s.
According to Dave Rodgers, owner of Lucky Records, there are many reasons for the resurgence of vinyl. "Part of it is that people want something tangible," he said. "Something that they can engage with. When you are playing a record you pay more attention to it. That experience is what people are looking for."
An exact reason for the vinyl comeback is hard to pinpoint, but the demand is there.
"Part of it is nostalgia, part of it is sound quality, there are many elements to it’s comeback," he said.
Whatever the reason, Rodgers is glad. What started out as a hobby repairing turntables has evolved into a full-time occupation and Lucky Records will celebrate its fifth year in business next September. He credits a recent upsurge in the popularity of vinyl recordings to the artists that are dedicated to pressing them.
"Taylor Swift’s album 1989 sold really, really well," he said. "Adele does really good, some artists that you would never think of do really well on vinyl. Up until recently, when Jack White founded Third Man Records, artists were using the same equipment as the artists used in the 1970s to produce a vinyl record."
Gabriel O’Brien, sales manager at Larry’s Music and owner of Upperhand Studios recording studio, agreed with Rodgers and added that there are two parts to getting a song out — creation and delivery.
"Digital music allowed for the creation of high-quality music on a consistent basis," said O’Brien. "There is a step called ‘mastering’ in the recording process and it is different for digital and analog."
He said that digital music does not require many of the components that were historically used to play analog music.
"(Vinyl) recordings can only be made at a certain volume," he said. "With digital music, all of the loudness is built in. There is no need for a separate amplifier."
Digital music files, with mp3 a common format, are portable and can be played on a variety of portable devices, but, that portability comes with a price. Some of the music is stripped away from the file. "It is the extreme highs and lows of a song," said Rodgers. "Those are, subjectively, some critical components of a song."
"Digital music has become less important," said O’Brien. "It is listened to in the background everywhere you go. With vinyl, you had to choose to actively participate in the listening experience."
While digital music has become the preferred delivery method for the casual listener, O’Brien maintains that the serious music aficionado, would still prefer analog over its digital counterpart.
"Right now digital music has a symbiotic relationship with analog," he said. "A listener will hear a digital song and then purchase it on vinyl, so it is a good way to get introduced to new music. It is a single serving compared to purchasing an entire album."
"Digital music isn’t ideal for listening to deep cuts on an album or having a serious conversation regarding and album."
Reporter Dan Starcher can be reached at (330)287-1626 or email@example.com. He is @danstarcher on Twitter.