The Phenomena of Young Kids Buying Old Records

“Idk, they’re just cool.”

I texted the only teenager in my phone “why do you like buying vinyl records?” I was hoping for a bit more self-reflection so that I could just take their answer and wouldn’t have to do any work.

Album sales among Gen X and Gen Z’ers are rising more and more with each year, even though the tech is more expensive, takes up more space, and takes way more work. Teenagers (and really anyone) can hear any song they want within seconds. They can find any piece of information they’re looking for almost without thinking. It’s never been easier to access all the things we’re seeking, at all times. Same with dating apps. You can access literally hundreds of people within minutes with just the swipe of a finger. We’re swiping away at people who aren’t nearly up to snuff, even though we just ate a bowl of peanut butter for dinner. 

Recreating the adventure

It isn’t a stretch to assume that in a world where finding art is automatic and instant, it might be rewarding to create a circumstance where we can discover it again. It’s crazy to think that we might actually become unfulfilled by and even resentful of a world where everything is resolved so instantaneously. And it’s even crazier to think back to a world where if the average person wanted to look at, say, a swan, they had to actually go to a library or a lake?? And when they finally did see that swan, it was like, the coolest looking swan they’d ever seen.

So maybe digging through piles of old records gives us that sense of discovery, self-sufficiency and surprise upon finding something unexpected. Imagine how much better a song might sound if we weren’t even sure we’d have the ability to listen to it, or if we were never expecting to stumble upon it in the first place.

Maybe that ability to experience discovery is something that younger generations (and really anyone) is drawn to. Digging for a physical album in a shop when you could way more easily pull it up on a streaming app. Maybe the ability to work for access to albums inspires more appreciation, and more of a personal connection. Or maybe they’re just cool, and that’s enough.

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