A Vinyl Revival? How Today’s Students Have Brought Back the Record Player


AVPA-T junior Jack Haji shares his favorite records in his collection: The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates by Daryl Hall & John Oates (top left), Motomami by.Rosalía (top right), Lust for Life by Lana del Rey (bottom left), Greatest Hits by Foo Fighters (bottom right)

Lucy Montalti

From flared pants to polaroid cameras, it doesn’t take much to discover that today’s teens have been loving vintage trends. One of the largest yet most peculiar examples of this is the recent comeback of hard-copy music formats. In a world where you can easily stream any song at the click of a button, experts are reporting a growing interest in vinyl records, a market once thought to be dying.

The Recording Industry Association of America recently released their 2022 year-end revenue statistics, where they reported that, after sixteen consecutive years of growth, vinyl record sales have surpassed those of CDs for the first time since 1987. This may come as a surprise to many, as record players were mostly abandoned years ago in exchange for Walkmans, iPods, and eventually streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Still, while teenagers do enjoy the convenience of streaming music, the vintage appeal of vinyl records has been on the rise for the last decade.

At BCA, 92.9% of students use streaming services as their main source of music, with 72.9% being Spotify users. However, this does not discount the popularity of record players among BCA students, as 37.6% of students report listening to vinyl records as well.

“My sister got a vinyl record player as a gift many years ago and I loved the concept,” says AVPA-T junior Jack Haji. “When she moved into college, I took her record player and put it in my room. From that moment, I started collecting and listening to vinyl records.”

One of the most popular aspects of vinyl records for students is the intimate feeling that comes with owning a physical copy of their favorite music. Compared to streaming, purchasing an album requires more personal effort, often fostering a stronger connection between the student and the record.

“I definitely think that owning physical records really enhances the listening experience, especially since tangibility is something that there is less and less of these days,” says Greta Jennings, a junior in ABF. “Plus, collecting vinyl records is really like any other type of collection: it’s really cool to have a bunch of something you enjoy in a physical form.”

Jack agrees with Greta, saying “I absolutely have a connection with the records I own. Since I can hold the record in my hand, it automatically feels more real. On Spotify, for example, I have created over 300 playlists. When I make new playlists, it doesn’t feel very special. With vinyl records, however, since I needed to buy them for $20+ or have them gifted to me, it means more.”

Nonetheless, while physical ownership can create stronger connections to music, the ease of streaming services cannot be discounted. Even among the students who regularly use vinyl records, 68.8% mostly listen to music through streaming. 

ABF junior Greta Jenning’s dad’s record collection and vinyl setup, playing Rumours by Fleetwood Mac

For freshman Mia Subrahmanyam, the unpredictable nature of vinyl records can be frustrating compared to streaming’s guaranteed quality. “To be honest, the sound quality on many vinyl records is often worse than the sound quality of streaming music,” she says. “I have pretty nice quality headphones and speakers, so the sound quality of the records is not always as good.”

Greta, on the other hand, has a record player set-up that enhances the listening experience. “I think the difference in sound quality definitely depends on the quality of your record player and speaker system. My dad’s record player sounds a lot better than mine because I have a suitcase player and he has a ‘proper’ one with high quality speakers. If you have a higher quality record player, there is definitely an improvement in sound quality compared to streaming music, but even if you don’t, it’s still an enjoyable experience.”

A “suitcase player” is a record player typically sold by Victrola or Crosley that resembles a suitcase and is priced much lower than other players on the market. For those attempting to begin collecting vinyl records, price can be a large setback, causing many students to elect the more affordable options, despite the unreliable sound quality common in suitcase players.

AVPA-M sophomore Danielle Adcock is an example of a student who has not yet jumped on the vinyl trend, and she cites cost as one of the main deterrents. “I doubt I have the time and money to buy it. I saw that record players range from around $60 to thousands of dollars. Because of all of this, if I asked my parents, they’d probably give me a weird look and gleefully say no.”

Jack adds: “On top of the initial price of the record player ($100-$200 for a decent player), each vinyl record has its own large price. My vinyl records are each around $25, so it is hard to expand my collection without breaking the bank. That’s why I try to buy records that mean a lot to me.”

Ultimately, at the heart of the vinyl trend among students is the desire for a more personal music experience. While streaming services offer unparalleled convenience, they lack the physicality and personality that vinyl records possess. 

Greta concludes: “With Apple Music and Spotify, people are really disconnected to the music itself, but something about sitting down and listening to an album from start to finish is really enjoyable. If you’re looking to get into albums more than just individual songs or playlists, I really recommend listening to vinyl records because it lets you experience an album the way the artist or band meant for it to be heard.”