Vinyl record sales spinning downward because of COVID-19

by | Nov 27, 2020 | A&E

Elizabeth Mborah always thought of vinyl records as more than just something with aesthetic appeal. However, she says the downward trend hasn’t bothered her one bit.

“A lot of people just like vinyl for the clout it carries,” said Mborah, a Humber College Media Communications student. “The fact that it’s lost its appeal during COVID-19 has motivated me to expand my collection.”

The sales of vinyl in Canada have been in freefall for months. Doug Putman, the owner and CEO of Sunrise Records, has noticed the sharp decline in vinyl sales.

“Having our stores closed for a good portion of the pandemic was a reason, the cancellation of Record Store Day was another significant hit,” Putman said.

Record Store Day is an event that happens every April, celebrating the culture of independently owned record stores. Usually, it would include live performances, limited edition music releases, and store-wide discounts.

Mborah would have attended Record Store Day, but the cancellation quashed that.

“I was looking forward to buying some records for my collection. That would’ve been the perfect opportunity but COVID-19 really put a wrench in it,” she said.

Mborah’s love for vinyl blossomed throughout her childhood. Her mother always had records playing on Saturdays, normally be a day for cleaning in her family.

“Growing up, I’ve always heard music from vinyl records, chore day always became more fun when I’d hear the music from the record player. I actually started to look forward to Saturdays,” she said.

Jocelyn Gould, head of the Guitars Department at Humber College, loves vinyl but at the same time knows the COVID-19 pandemic took a deep toll on the industry itself.

“I love vinyl, I wish I had a vinyl collection. Though I understand why vinyl has dropped. With people going to record stores less during the pandemic, no one has a reason to buy records,” Gould said.

Ben Callegari, a Humber Radio Broadcasting student, used to like vinyl, but his perspective changed when looking for records online.

“I find vinyl really expensive nowadays, I’d be paying at least $45 for a new record,” he said. “I think that’s what’s keeping people from buying vinyl.

“The price is too steep,” Callegari said.

Putman recognizes some vinyl records are more expensive than others, but reassures not all vinyl is priced the same.

“Obviously the biggest misconception is that vinyl is ridiculously expensive, it pretty much depends on the artist and the record. If it’s a popular artist then their vinyl will be a bit pricier. If the record is a limited edition then it will be priced higher than regular editions,” Putman said.

Mborah has thought about giving up on vinyl based on the downward trend of the industry as of late.

“The thought of giving up on vinyl has materialized once or twice. I think what keeps me committed is the thought of my childhood. There’s just so many fun memories for me in vinyl records,” she said.

Mborah hopes for others to view vinyl records as more than just shelf space and that the medium gains more appreciation,

“I think having a record player can make people view vinyl differently,” she said. “Vinyl is more than something that collects dust on your shelf. It’s a way to view music in a different light.”