Remember when people use to turn to their record player to enjoy music? Holding the sleeve and looking through booklets as the record played is an experience that slowly started to fade for some as technology improved. But as 89.1 WEMU's Jorge Avellan reports, records are becoming more and more popular again these days, especially with events like National Record Store Day that will be celebrated April 22 in areas like Washtenaw County.
David Bowie's "Fill Your Heart" plays on a record at the Two Jerks record store in Ypsilanti. Wooden crates filled with used records decorate the cozy shop opened by Mark Teachout and his brother three years ago.
"I just hate the thought that there wouldn't be a record store where I live."
So he loves it when customers, like 27 year-old Jade Cassidy, walk into the shop and share the same passion for vinyl.
"I do like to buy records, it's kind of a collection thing for me, just a different way to listen to music that isn't an MP3 player, it's not super portable and accessible, so it's something that you can hang out at home with people, kind of listen to and enjoy a record."
To help keep records alive, shops like Two Jerks and Encore in Ann Arbor participate in National Record Store Day. On April 22nd, independent shops will sell limited edition records and host activities to attract customers.
Jim Dwyer is the co-owner of Encore.
"People see how much fun it is to shop for music in this old fashioned format of actually going into a store and you can flip through and look at things, talk to other people, oh you like that record? Then you should check this record out. The internet makes it easy, like you have the world at your fingertips but those are all just representations of little sound clips and the sound clips don't sound as good in a digital file as a vinyl LP."
I bump into 17 year-old Patience Habert as she browses through records at Encore with her mother.
"Do you know about National Record Store Day? Yeah, I've been for the past three years."
Patience says one day she just decided she wanted a record player, so she got one and started buying vinyl. She holds up two records as I continue talking to her.
"I have Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin. Do you know about these artists? Yeah, I love them, I love both of them a lot. Do you think the style of music is just so different from what you're listening to now? Yeah, I definitely prefer older music to newer music just in terms of style. I think it's just better."
In 2016, more than three million LP's were sold--the highest since 1991. David Bowie's "Blackstar" album was number one. Bowie, like Prince, are top sellers at local shops in Washtenaw County. But can you guess who else is in high demand? Mark Teachout from Two Jerks reveals who it is.
"The young kids really seem to be into 70's rock right now, which is interesting, you didn't use to be able to sell a copy of Fleetwood Mac Rumours and now every millennial who comes in wants a copy. I don't know what happened."
There are about 1,400 independent record stores across the United States. Washtenaw County has a handful. Marc Taras, who is a music host for WEMU, co-owns PJ's Used Records and CD's in Ann Arbor. While he supports promoting mom-and-pop shops, he believes Record Store Day has transformed into something else.
"It seems to have turn into an event to promote the sale of limited edition recordings and as I said, there seems to be an underground industry that has nothing to do with the retailer and their customers. It has more to do with people snatching up copies of these records knowing that in three to five years. They'll be in very high demand because they were printed in a limited number."
As time goes by, many records continue to hold their value. You may have a limited edition at home that's been collecting dust over the years. You may want bring that treasure back to life and introduce it to the younger generation in your family. But be careful--they may want to keep it.
Music featured in this story comes from the following albums:
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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org