Vinyl skipped an entire generation ...

Records were always available, more or less. But we were all distracted by the ever-changing forms of music media. In the 80's we were excited about cassettes. It was a revolutionary change to be able to easily bring your music with you wherever you go. After the cassette, in early to mid-1990s was the rise of the CD, which gave everyone crystal clear sound and we all felt like it was the future because it used a laser. That was fun until about 2001 when the first iPod was released. Although it was a very successful release, it wasn't for another 5 years or so until everyone was pretty much fully on-board with MP3s and portable MP3 players. Some time after 2005, when Internet bandwidth was more available to everyone and the rise of the smart phones, music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify began to take off in a major way and have kept people happy for about another 5 years. And this was pretty much one of the main catalysts for the resurgence of vinyl.

After having fun with streaming internet radio and buying MP3s from the Apple Store, people began to get disillusioned with the idea of throwing money into virtual goods and services. It simply didn't give them the same joy and pride of ownership they used to get when they would buy and album. What they really wanted was to have it all: Pride of ownership, quality album art, clear sound, portability, availability, and return on investment. And it turns out that they could indeed have it all, as long as they were willing to diversify their music media options. The reality is that MP3's are, more or less, virtually free. They are very easy to copy and share among friends. So people have collected massive MP3 archives and if they don't have something they want, they can probably torrent it or get it from a friend. If they feel like listening to random, never before heard music, the streaming services are free. If they want clear sound, they can either get a high quality digital file (FLAC) or buy a vinyl record. And if they want album art, pride of ownership, and a chance for return on investment, then vinyl records are the way to go. In the end, the only thing that really costs money is physical album art, pride of ownership, and return on investment. And the great news is that a lot of new records come with a download code to get the MP3s.

The people who turned to vinyl in the late 2000s to present haven't abandoned MP3s or the streaming services. We just use them when it's appropriate. I still listen to my iPod in the car. But I also enjoy the feeling of purchasing an a new record and getting into it. Likewise, I am happy to not throw money on digital goods that will never hold value. For me, it's a winning situation.

So what is in store for the future of music? Well, some things are pretty obvious. The high quality lossless digital formats such as FLAC will get more mainstream support. But no one is terribly excited about that. We may see some new technology when it comes to video/audio experience, such as 3D music video or Virtual Reality music video. (Wouldn't you like to jump onstage with Van Halen?) CGI technology is crossing over that point where it's hard to tell the difference between reality and computer-generated, so we could see a resurrection of our lost music heroes such as Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, etc... Portable digital music players will increase in storage capacity, battery capacity, and offer streaming services, but they will still be an MP3 player, more or less. We'll also probably see a few small resurgences in some legacy music media formats such as cassette, 8-track, and even a resurgence of CDs. People always love nostalgia.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is pretty clear: It's no longer about what new technology will replace the old technology. There will be a niche market for everything and people will diversify their music media portfolio instead of putting all of their eggs in one basket.

/r/vinyl Thread