SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Trends, they come and go and then some come back — and one of those is vinyl records, which first hit the music scene around 80 years ago. After decades of popularity, sales dropped starting in the late 80s. But by the mid-2000s, the appeal picked up and that interest in vinyl records is still going on today.
“There’s something about opening that shrink wrap and getting to pull out the album out for the first time,” said Connor Wright, the owner of Black Sheep Record Company.
It was in the 60s and 70s when vinyl records boomed in sales, but as CDs were introduced, they started to fall off.
“By the late ‘80s,1990s, pretty much all vinyl production had stopped. Everyone switched to compact discs. That was the golden era if you were a vinyl collector because they were so cheap and they were everywhere,” Samuel Stinson, a record dealer with Randy’s Records, said.
Data from the Recording Industry Association of America shows vinyl sales began to pick up again in the mid-2000s and Luminate’s latest year-end report shows 43.5 million records being sold in the U.S. in 2022.
Local record shops say they’ve seen that vinyl resurgence here in Utah.
“People started coming, I started seeing younger people coming in wanting to buy records because they discovered that they had artwork, there were jackets, there were things to read. Plus, they saw things, picture discs, colored vinyl, it was a whole new world to them,” said Michael Maccarrone, the co-owner of Sound and Vision Vinyl.
Maccarone said he sees records sold from artists of every genre and time period, but people never lose interest in the classics, like The Beatles, David Bowie, Metallica, and Led Zeppelin.
“The record is the closest thing to having the band in the same room with you,” said Maccarone.
If you go and visit Sound and Vision Vinyl at 3444 S. Main St, you’ll be greeted with posters of artists like David Bowie and The Stooges, concerts playing on TV — as well as Maccarrone, who’s always happy to talk music.
“Music to me is very special, records are like a photograph, it’s a memory of who, what, where, when, why. It’s an emotion. If you’re going out on a Friday night and getting ready, you’re gonna be playing music that’s getting you in the mood to go. If you just broke up in a relationship, you’ll listen to sad and depressing music. It’s like oxygen, you need it,” he said.
Macarrone opened up the doors of Sound and Vision Vinyl around 8 years ago but worked in record shops in New York before then.
“I was 16 when I first started running stores and I’m 61 now,” he said.
For him music has always been in his veins — he’s played in bands, his personal vinyl collection is in the thousands and his love of music started at a very young age.
“I have pictures of me, 5, 6 years old with Beatles records,” he said.
He shared when vinyl went away, so did many stores.
“Back in New York it was rough, we had a lot of stores on Long Island that had been there for 30 years. Because of the digital and CDs, a lot of them closed,” he said.
Maccarone said nothing quite compares to the vibrant sound of a vinyl record, and it’s been great to see them coming back and people bonding over them together
“To see bands I grew up with, like the Ramones, nobody listened to them back then because they said it was noise. Now 40-50 years later, kids sit there and go ‘this is incredible’, this is great music,” he said. “With the new people coming in, you got parents in their 30s and 40s, they got kids, teens, they get together and share their music.”
Randy’s Records, found on 157 E 900 S, is one of Utah’s oldest record shops. Walking up to the store, you’ll find the windows decked out in posters and the sides covered in murals of beloved albums from Ramblin’ Man by Hank Willams to A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders. The shop has been standing strong for 45 years, all stemming from a dream by Randy, Stinson’s father.
Stinson said in 1969, while Randy was stationed in Vietnam, he knew he wanted to open a record shop. When he returned, he bought a place in Salt Lake City on the Avenues that had a storefront, but it was delayed due to zoning changes. Randy continued collecting and in 1978, was finally able to start his record shop. Stinson and his brother, growing up around vinyl, also grew a love for music, and helped run the store — but it wasn’t always easy.
“We almost went out of business like multiple times in the 80s and definitely in the 90s, there was a point where things got hard for sure,” said Stinson.
In recent years, they’ve kept quite busy as more and more locals are joining in on building up their record collections.
“It’s just nice to be able to connect people to music,” said Stinson. “People get excited when you see them find their favorite record or something they’ve been looking for for 20 years, that’s rewarding for sure.”
Collectors say there’s many reasons vinyl appeals to them, from the sound to being able to hold a physical copy of their favorite music.
“[It’s] the treasure hunt, the collecting aspect, finding your favorite albums, finding certain colors you like, things you didn’t even realize you would find,” said Evelyn Salazar, who has around 100 records.
Salazar said she always admired vinyl records as she grew up seeing them at her grandparents’ house, but never thought she would have her own collection until she was gifted a copy of an album by one of her favorite artists last year.
“This is where it started. And then the collection just grew from there,” she said, holding a copy of the EP Good Dog, Bad Dream by Hippo Campus on a red marbled vinyl.
Connor Wright, who’s been collecting since 2017, said there’s many aspects of what draws people to vinyl, saying it’s a whole experience.
“Having that physical thing at home that you can sit down and spend time listening to the gives you a more solid connection than streaming necessarily does,” he said. “There’s the sound quality aspect, it definitely does sound better.”
For Wright, he said the pandemic helped propel his collection, which was something he noticed among several of his friends as well.
“It was definitely a giant upswing with everyone stuck at home, needing some musical comfort,” he said.
His collection all started with a limited edition record he bought when seeing one of his favorite artists in concert, before he even got his record player.
“[I] picked up a copy of one of Harry Styles’ limited editions and since then slowly accumulated things,” he said.
His love of vinyl expanded into him starting his own business, Black Sheep Record Company, in September last year where he hopes to share his passion with others who feel the same.
“It’s gone from being ten orders a day to upwards of hundreds sometimes. We sold three hundred copies of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream in the last couple of weeks,” he said. Many in the collecting community say they hope to see the love for vinyl continue as it has.
“I see kids reliving and connecting to things I connected to 40-50 years ago with the same exuberance and enthusiasm and love and it’s beautiful,” said Maccarrone.
For ABC4’s Kayla Baggerly — one of her favorite memories growing up was going to record stores with her parents and trying to find the perfect vinyl. They got her hooked when her mom gave Kayla her old copies of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and Queen’s The Game from her personal collection.
Whether you’ve been collecting for months or years, there’s something for everyone — from Taylor Swift to Miles Davis to Pink Floyd, connecting generations together through music.