The seemingly endless line for Record Store Day slithered down the Fourth Street sidewalk as the warm rays of the sun cracked through the tree branches.
Inside Fingerprints music store, crowds dispersed in all directions to find hidden gems of different genres and eras as records went flying in the air Saturday. The cool, foggy breeze around the crowd reminded participants that it was still 7 a.m.
According to those in the music scene, the popularity of vinyl records has grown exponentially in recent years, resulting in distinct trends within the music industry and with music consumers.
Vinyl sales in the first half of 2014 increased by 40 percent since 2013, while total album sales fell by almost 15 percent due to diminishing sales of CDs and digital albums, according to Newsweek.
“It’s becoming more and more of a major label thing where they’re shoving up more products to get more dollars for the consumer,” Los Angeles resident Steve Pettit said. “Unfortunately, that is hindering the business of more independent artists.”
Several vinyl enthusiasts said that they believe that the instinct of major record labels such as Warner Music Group to capitalize on the trend defeats the point of Record Store Day, which is to boost independent stores as well as independent labels.
“Independent labels were the reason why vinyl was started,” Pettit said.
The finite number of record pressing plants also creates a barrier for independent labels. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is about 15 record pressing plants in the United States that face daily difficulties of breakdowns and supply shortages.
“Say an independent label like TP records, who do newer psychedelic bands, like the Warlocks or Comet Control, sell out of their stock for a title that there’s demand for,” Pettit said. “The major labels have the ability to do more business because they’ve hypothetically got 3,000 Faming Lips records.”
Since the larger labels are selling higher quantity records, the smaller labels are getting pushed to the wayside as a result, Pettit said. He said that this not only impedes their Record Store Day sales, but year-round business as well.
Entrepreneurs are weary about investing large dollars into the record pressing industry since it represents only 2 percent of music sales in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Rolling Stone, those who choose to listen digitally, which precautions the music industry from steering its market towards vinyl, rival those who revel in the artisanal quality of records.
“I think that [the vinyl trend] can go both ways”, Simi Valley resident Heba Elalami said. “I have friends who have grown up with records from their parents and appreciate listening to oldies. But there’s also a lot of people who have started collecting records but aren’t even interested in listening to them.”
On the flip side, Fingerprints employee Quincy King said that he is glad to see a boost in vinyl sales.
“I think there’s a lot of positive,” King said. “The negative things can be ironed out over time.”
Hip-Hop has also played a role in making the comeback of vinyl through the prevalence of DJs, music sampling and obscure artists, such as Q-tip and Flying Lotus.
“Combining older and newer [hip hop] sounds and introducing it to the culture helps promote [records] and creates a supply and demand for it,” King said.
As the world immerses itself into the digital age, many music fans still crave something tangible.
“I could order my records online, but that kind of defeats the purpose,” King said. “There’s something about actually going there and actually finding a record that you’ve been looking for forever.”
The aesthetic nostalgia that comes with vinyl records keeps some on the lookout during Record Store Day. Fans appreciate the unique character of each disc— the beauty of the artwork and colors, or the fragmented sounds that come from some of the old records.
“There’s a ritual that goes with it: you take the record out of the sleeve, you clean it, you drop the needle, you kind of listening to when it gets to where you have to get up and turn the record over,” Foster said. “It kind of forces you into the moment. Hopefully it’s an inexpensive vacation.”