Back in the groove: Why vinyl records are making a comeback

Posted On May 6, 2019

Did you know that vinyl albums are still being produced today? It’s not just reissues, but new releases by current artists. And people are buying them.

The introduction of the compact disc three decades ago ended the mass production of vinyl albums as a primary medium for musical recordings. And after record stores traded their bins of vinyl for racks of CDs, the advent of the internet and music sharing platforms such as Spotify and Pandora sent most of them out of business.

But albums didn’t go away completely. Now, there’s a growing demand for vinyl, both by collectors and casual music fans. And record shops are making a bit of a comeback, with about 2,000 independently owned stores currently operating in the U.S.

Our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston,” owns one of those stores here in Mobile, Alabama – one that’s drawing an international following. Keith Glass is a former recording artist from Australia who first came to the Mobile area for a songwriting festival and soon found himself returning to the area for good.

With a background not only as a musician, but experience in retail and music journalism, Glass became a record store owner almost by accident, looking for another means of income when his writing gigs began to dry up – another ill effect of the internet.

“I started to realize that if I went to estate sales and yard sales on a weekend, I could find lots and lots of vinyl records,” he said. “Before I knew it, I had a 20-by-10 storage unit packed to the gills with records.”

Glass ultimately opened Mobile Records on Sage Avenue, and in the last seven years the store has grown both in inventory and reputation. People come from all over the world the visit the shop, as vinyl collectors have become an underground community of sorts, with lists of favorite record stores around the world to visit.

What would seem to be an outdated medium has become a lucrative niche business for Glass and other shop owners around the country.

“When I first got this location, I walked to the back of the store and wondered if I could fill it,” he said. “And now I’m looking for more room.”

Glass shares how the shop came to be and the appeal of vinyl albums, why older albums may be of better quality than new ones, why record shop openers don’t necessarily see the internet as the enemy, why the marketing of compact discs as having superior sound quality isn’t necessarily accurate, and why his clientele can’t be accurately categorized – whether in terms of age, gender or style of shopper.

Join us for a nostalgic discussion about records, and why vinyl isn’t just for nostalgia.

Categories: Podcast, What's Working with Cam Marston