Record Store Day 2010

Today is Record Store Day, an annual celebration of independent record shops around the world and, by extension, a celebration of the vinyl record. The 7″ single (played at 45 revolutions per minute) and the 12″ album (33 1/3 rpm) were developed in the 1940s and became the most popular form of music carrier within a decade. The success of the single coincided with the arrival of rock & roll at the end of the 50s, but the coming of age of the album format saw LPs outselling singles by the end of the 60s. The first big challenge to vinyl’s dominance of the music market was the introduction of the cassette tape at the end of the following decade. The possibility of portable music was heralded by the arrival of the Walkman in the early 80s, paving the way for cassette sales to overtake those of records by the end of that decade. Vinyl’s future was also challenged by the switch from analogue to digital in the shape of the compact disc in the middle of the 80s. The combination of the cassette and the CD led to the swift demise of the record, while the continuing popularity of the CD eventually killed off the humble cassette. The major record companies continued to profit from all these format changes, particularly when consumers upgraded their vinyl to newer (and more expensive) CDs

Ironically, it was the switch from analogue to digital that would eventually lead to the current decrease in the volume of music sales as a result of the most recent format to emerge. The mp3 has made music even more portable and far more accessible to a wider audience, but this has come at a price for the record companies. Music fans continue to buy new releases by their favourite bands, but many people coming to music in the digital age may never buy a CD in a record store or even make a legal purchase online. In the past, the public paid for records, tapes and discs because their money bought them something they could touch as well as listen to. The album included a record cover, an inlay card or a CD insert that featured cover art, production notes, usually lyrics and always a tracklisting. The combination of the music with the physical object forms a strong connection between the listener and the music. This connection is weakened when an album becomes just a collection of music files on a computer, just like these two music files about the 7″ single and the long playing record

45 Forever – The All New Adventures of Us

Vinyl Records – Todd Snider