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'It's a totally different experience': Vinyl record sales overtake CDs after 37 years

The resurgence of vinyl appears to be driven by more than nostalgia, with younger generations spinning records more than ever. The resurgence of vinyl appears to be driven by more than nostalgia, with younger generations spinning records more than ever.
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LETHBRIDGE -

For the first time in nearly four decades, vinyl records have surpassed CDs in sales.

And the resurgence appears to be driven by more than nostalgia, with younger generations spinning records more than ever.

"There's just something special that the CDs can't replicate. They just can't," said Brent Gibson, a life-long record collector.

The last time vinyl records outsold CDs was 1987.

Vinyl has been making a comeback for several years but according to data from the Recording Industry Association of America, U.S. vinyl sales reached 41.3 million in 2022 compared to about 33.4 million CDs sold in the same year.

"I've seen it slowly build over the years," said Adam Sudo, general manager at King of Trade in downtown Lethbridge.

"What once was a section of one-10th of what we have (has) grown into what you see behind me here and much more."

Vinyl sales saw a boom at the start of the pandemic, growing by 28 per cent in 2020 and then 68.8 per cent in 2021.

Caravan Records and Vintage in south Lethbridge say they're glad to see the younger generation also feeling the vibes.

"Kids getting into music on vinyl is really cool because that's a format of influence and they'll remember the music and artists that they first got into for the rest of their lives," said John Brooks, owner of Caravan Records and Vintage.

While streaming on apps like Spotify and Apple Music leads the pack, making up 84 per cent of sales in the music industry, fans of records say there's nothing like physically holding and listening to fresh vinyl for the first time.

"They're just so much more special than a CD," Gibson said.

"CDs are almost sterile, clinical in the way they make them and stuff, and they can't replicate the sound off the LPs."

For many people, vinyl records are more of an experience than just a way to listen to music.

"Collecting vinyl is a lot like watching films and there's an element of listening to it with your friends and family. There's an element of memory, nostalgia," Brooks said.

"There's dozens of reasons that people could get into vinyl."

"You're holding the cover in your hand, you're looking at the artwork, you're listening to it from front to back instead of just clicking shuffle on a device, so it's a totally different experience and it's a lot of fun," Sudo added.

The music industry doesn't expect the vinyl trend to end any time soon, as more music fans of all ages are choosing to switch their boombox for the drop of the needle.

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