She recalled her younger self listening to the same album over and over again. She was intrigued with its color.

Gifted to her by one of her grand-mothers, the album of the Broadway show Oklahoma played constantly on repeat.

This album stood out for its bright yellow color compared to the other classic black records she owned.

Vinyl records were the first form of recorded music.

“I took piano lessons for many years starting in what is now called middle school. I always enjoyed listening to music on the radio. Back then we bought vinyl records,” English teacher Dana Ferrell said. “Listening to music was something I enjoyed, and playing the piano was a big part of my life.”

Today the vinyl record industry is making a comeback in spite of all the streaming services and downloadable music options.

Like most things, the industry faded with the advancement in technology. According to a chart by Michael DeGusta,  record sales were highest in 1979. In 1991 they hit the bottom of sales and almost went extinct in the music industry.

After records came 8-track tapes, cassette tapes and then CDs. Now instant downloads, iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and more are the main sources for listening.

“I think it’s important to keep an emphasis on music,” junior Josh Morrow said. “In an increasingly digital age, people are listening to more music than before because of its accessibility. In the age where you had to buy records, you really had to take care of them. It was a big deal. The music that you bought was important. You could be defined by what you bought and listened to because of the effort you put into your music.”

Millennials are one reason for vinyl’s recent resurgence. Their interest in all-things-vintage has been an economic boon for the music industry. Searching for new music has gone from perfecting a Spotify playlist back to flipping through used worn records.

“When buying vinyl you pay a little more for more of a music experience, including the artwork that comes with it,” Morrow said. “This makes music not only a background thing but the foreground of what you’re doing. It’s more of an experience.”

The appreciation for the medium is shared by younger and older listeners.

“There is something about holding the album, and one thing that was lost was the artwork on the albums. That was just as important in many ways in representing the music,” Ferrell said. “When I was in the record shop downtown, I noticed there were recently released records in vinyl, and that surprised me. I didn’t know that was coming back. It was neat to see. The cover and artwork are an enhancement that you don’t get when downloading music.”

Vinyl albums require far more care than even CDs. Enthusiasts appreciate the amount of care that goes into keeping the music pristine from scratches and dust.

“I have always loved music and think vinyl gives you more of an appreciation for it. You have to physically take care of it and make sure it doesn’t get scratched up,” junior Katie Dorn said. “A few years ago, I started collecting records before I even had a record player. I was buying them just because I liked the covers and they were cheap. You can often find them at garage sales.”

Companies are producing vinyl albums again in response to the demand. VNYL is a company much like Netflix where users can rent three records at a time through a mailing process. Another company, Vinyl Me, Please, will send one new record every month depending on the buyer’s taste in music.

Downtown Asheville and Hendersonville offer different options for record shopping.

“I have a lot of new records that I have paid $20 for and then others that are used albums that cost me $3,” Morrow said. “Generally, the older records are better made than some of the newer records I’ve purchased.

Morrow’s favorite record shop in Asheville is Harvest Records. He has also purchased music from other local places as well as Amazon.com and Barnes in Noble.

According to Hugh McIntyer from Forbes, Amazon is the leading online retailer of  this older form of music at 12.3 percent.

Urban Outfiters is the second leading retailer of vinyl.

“My dad used to play the Beatles for me and on the weekends he would play them all day.” Dorn said, “That gave me more of an appreciation for older music, 70s and 60s. From there it has grown.”

Records might be extinct in the future, but for now the industry is thriving.

“My love for vinyl records is continuing to grow.” Dorn said. “I hope that it will continue to be produced so others will have access to some of the history that vinyl records hold.”

By: Hailey Port

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