Upcoming Livestream
  • The Inkspot will be livestreaming the Ironmen boys basketball Intercity contest vs. Normal West on Nov. 27 starting at 5:55 p.m.
The official student news of Normal Community High School


The official student news of Normal Community High School


The official student news of Normal Community High School


Vinyl revival: Community’s vinyl enthusiasts on why records are spinning back into popularity

Inkspot Staff
Waiting Room Records, located in Uptown Normal, stocks new vinyl and buys and sells used vinyl, making it a popular among Community’s record enthusiasts.

A tug on the sleeve. An adjustment of the arm.

Millions are turning to the needle to feed their addiction.

This is the vinyl revival. Vinyl records outsold CDs in the US for the first time in over 35 years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s annual revenue report.

Climbing steadily during the last 16 years, vinyl now accounts for over 70 percent of all physical music purchases, according to the RIAA report.

But why?

Digital music has never been more accessible, millions and millions of songs available at the push of a button.

Spotify alone boasts a catalog of over 100 millions tracks, literal lifetimes’ worth of music. 

The average vinyl? 20 minutes per side. 

And yet, record sales are seeing a major resurgence.

Mr. Stefen Robinson said his favorite record album, if he had to pick one, would be “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, which Robinson described as “a very spiritual album.” Robinson first heard the album when he was around 14 years old on CD. “I didn’t know why it affected me so much at the time, but it resonated with me in a way that I could not explain. Many, many, many, many years later, I finally got it on vinyl. And that’s the way it was intended to be listened to.” (Mr. Stefen Robinson)

Mr. Stefen Robinson, who has been collecting vinyl since 2004, attributes the record renaissance to the fact that “streaming is just so disposable.”

Robinson’s collection of analog music, shelves of CDs and vinyl, by comparison is tangible, something he thinks “makes appreciating the art more… visceral.”

“What I like about listening to music via vinyl,” Robinson said, “is the intentionality of it. It requires a bit of effort to pick out something, to hold [it] in your hand to put on to the record player… something you spent time and resources to collect.”

“It’s like a ritual,” Robinson said. “It’s an experience where you have a more physical connection to the artist.”

The record as a work of art, something carefully crafted and curated, a tracklist where one song seamlessly leads into the next. It’s that artistry that senior Parker Williams appreciates. 

“Look at an album like ‘Folklore,’ ‘Evermore,’ some sort of concept album–‘Life of Pablo,’ ‘Dark Side of the Moon’…,” Williams said. “These are albums where the music is placed in a way where you have to experience it in full.

“The great thing about records is that you’re forced to sit down and do that,” Williams continued.

Robinson too prefers to listen to an album, start to finish, front to back.

But, Robinson said, “that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for playlists.” 

“I like occasionally listening to curated playlists, especially when a friend makes it for me,” Robinson said. “You know, that’s beautiful.”

Beauty–that’s what Williams finds in his collection of nearly 100 vinyls.

For the senior there is something alluring about the physical, tangible album that is missing with digital music. 

There is the record sleeve and album cover –“if it’s a gatefold, you can have just beautiful artwork on the side,” Williams said.

Parker Williams isn’t particular when it comes to where he purchases the vinyl he plays on his record player, an Audio Technica LP 60x. Williams shops at Uptown Normal’s Waiting Room Records and North Street Records, Reckless Saint (Bloomington), even making purchases from Wisconsin’s Inner Sleeve Records and Urban Outfitters. (Photo Courtesy of: Parker Williams)

There are the liner notes.

You can see the producers, the musicians, the lyrics, Williams said, “that’s one of my favorite things.”

There are multi-colored , one-off wax pressings.

“Buying a record you have all these other different layers,” Williams said, “you can have a fuller experience with records.”

“That makes a big difference to me in buying a record versus listening to it on Spotify.”

“I don’t hate streaming,” Williams said, it “is very convenient.” 

“The great thing about living in today’s era,” Williams said, is the ability to listen to a single before the album is released, the ability to preview an album before purchasing it. 

“You really want to know if an album is for you,” Williams said, “because records are really expensive.”

Ean Hansen, holding his favorite album Green Day’s “Smoothed Out Slappy Hours” Green Day and signed Alice Cooper signed album. (Photo Courtesy of: Ean Hansen)

Junior Ean Hansen knows that expense all too well. 

“I was at an Alice Cooper concert,” Hansen said, “and at the time, his newest album had just [been] released. He was selling them, signed.” 

$80 later, Hansen left the concert with Cooper’s “Detroit Stories” (2021).

“Even though it’s not my favorite album,” Hansen said, “to me, it was worth it. Partially because I love him so much as an artist,  but [also] I really wanted something physical,” a souvenir from seeing a favorite act play live. 

Hansen’s vinyl collection, over 40 albums, exists, he said, as a physical representation of his love for a certain album or artist. 

“To me, it’s worth it to have that physical [album], despite the price. Just the other day, I spent like 40-50 bucks on two vinyls.”

“You can still typically find good vinyl for about $20. As long as you know where to look, it’s easy to keep collecting at a reasonable price.”

By nature, Hansen is a collector.  If he is passionate about it, he will collect it.  

“I used to collect video games and video game consoles,” he said.

“Game Boys, Sega Genesis.” Funko Pops and San Francisco 49ers memorabilia.   

And albums. 

Hansen’s collection began after he found his dad’s record player and purchased his first album – Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits.

“From there, it just kind of grew. I’ve upgraded my setup a few times, but it all started with just an old vinyl player and Johnny Cash,” Hansen said.

Beyond cash, beyond the price of albums, an issue with record collecting Hansen said, is availability. 

“It’s harder to find vinyl,” Hansen said, by “artists who never got super successful. My favorite band of all time is Toto.

“You’ll find ‘IV’ sometimes because that has ‘Africa’ on it.”

The band’s other 13 studio albums? 

“They just stopped reprinting them. It can be very difficult if you like less popular bands to find [them on] vinyl,” Hansen said.

“It’s easier for artists to release things on CD today than it is on vinyl,” Robinson, a musician, producer, and record label founder, said. “Vinyl is very expensive. It takes a long time to get it manufactured because there aren’t as many [manufacturers now]. They’re coming back. But, there are so many big name artists that are pressing so much stuff on vinyl, that independent artists and independent record labels have a hard time doing it in a way that’s cost-effective.”

That, Hansen thinks, is a shame because “vinyl will typically sound better than Spotify.”

It was that sound quality that got Williams started collecting vinyl when he heard his twin sister playing the Charlie Brown Christmas album. 

“The sound was really good,“ Williams said–the reverb and echo on the children’s vocals, it was  “just great stuff.”

An album on vinyl, Brighton Blackwell said, just has a cooler sound. 

Blackwell began building her collection of around 35 records three years ago, something she attributes to her attraction to “old-timey things.” 

Brighton Blackwell was inspired by her older brother, who she said “has always been very interested in vinyl,” to start her own collection of records. “When he got his record player around five years ago,” Blackwell said, “that’s when I started like having an interest in them and started listening to them on his [player].” (Photo Courtesy of: Brighton Blackwell)
Blackwell’s aesthetic, she said, is vintage.

This is something Williams understands.

A record, Williams said, is like “owning a piece of history. They’re like fragments in time.” 

“I think that’s what makes collecting amazing,” Williams said, “because it is just history.”

The older, the better, because for Williams, buying “records is like old-school music discovery.”

“You only know one track on the album, you don’t know any of the other tracks. And then eventually, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is a great track.’ ‘I love this track.’ 

“That’s how I’ve gotten into a lot of artists,” Williams said.  

Lynyrd Skynyrd. Little Richard. Miles Davis. Pink Floyd. Mötley Crüe.

“I think it really helps you expand your musical tastes,” because listening to a new album in its entirety, Williams said, “forces you to actually try something new.”

With digital “yeah, the songs right here, but I have all these other options that I know. You’re probably going to go with what you know.”

“It doesn’t matter where you start,” Williams said,–Bloomington Normal stores like Reckless Saint, North Street Records, Waiting Room Records, Reverberation–“find what you love, collect what you love.”

Donate to Inkspot
Our Goal

IF YOU SHARE THE INKSPOT'S PASSION for empowering Normal Community's aspiring journalists and equipping them with viable and valuable digital media skills, please consider contributing to our cause.
Your support plays a vital role in enabling the Inkspot to invest in top-tier equipment, maintain memberships in distinguished professional organizations such as the Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association, send our students to compete at state and national contests, and attend the National High School Journalism Convention.
Your generosity is the key to providing these students with a truly enriching educational experience. THANK YOU.

About the Contributor
Kirsten Santana, Senior Staff Reporter
Kirsten Santana is a junior at Normal Community High School. It is her second year on the Inkspot staff. My favorite film is “When Marnie Was There.” One of my guilty pleasures is collecting pretty glass bottles. My all-time dream is to produce my own cartoon show.
Donate to Inkspot
Our Goal