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A few months ago, a small factory in Cleveland started pressing records. Why does that matter? Because Gotta Groove is the first new vinyl pressing facility to come out of the United States in a long, long time. Somehow, a group of smart, experienced people got together and decided there was money to be made pressing vinyl. What’s more, they got other people to agree and give them some money. Apparently, records are good business again. So, how did we get here?

First a quick history lesson. Records - wax and then vinyl - were the dominant medium in the recording industry for nearly a century. Record companies were blissfully cranking out 33’s, 45’s and 78’s until 1988, when, for the first time, compact discs outsold vinyl records. Vinyl never recovered. Compact discs are easier to make, easier to handle, and easier to take for a walk. You can store more music, at a higher quality, for a better price, on CD than on vinyl. Ten short years later, compact discs were squashed by digital music. Digital music is audio converted to ones and zeroes. The advent of mp3, an audio encoding format, and the rapid growth of peer-to-peer music

DUSTY MEMORIES - Vinyl’s resurgence as the dominant music distribution format - and why that actually matters

sharing networks, made free music a hard reality. Anyone could turn on their desktop and get whatever music they wanted-- instantly. Physical music distribution became a liability. Sales dropped, then plummeted as the industry stumbled around, waging war on their old customers. New distribution channels, digital and outside commercial control, were the only sources of growth in a stagnating market. Music you could put your hands on was dead.

But then something unexpected happened. A revival. While digital formats are convenient, and instantaneous, the sound quality is poor, and they hold little collectible cachet. Digital cannot replace the personal connection; having a piece of your band that is yours, and yours alone. A response formed in that intersection of youth and DJ culture. Artists experimented with turntables and records and transformed them into new art forms. Beatmaking (sample based music production) and turntablism, (using turntables as an instrument to create new compositions), became the new underground. Video sharing on YouTube meant you could watch the best battles and learn the newest tricks, at home, with your friends. Records started to represent something. They were a tangible connection to your heroes. Sample based musicians creating music from dusty gems found on old vinyl gave records a whole new appeal. Record collecting was a movement. All of a sudden, vinyl had soul. And new vinyl did too.

Most new LP’s are released at double or triple the price of their digital counterparts. And yet, vinyl sales have risen steadily over the last ten years. Audiophiles will tell you they prefer vinyl because of its warmer, vacuum-tube sound. Dig a little deeper,

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