Why do we buy vinyl discs and moreover, why do we listen to such an unwieldy format? The trend I observed seems to draw more attention from local stores and consumers themselves year by year and, to learn why it is so, I decided to consult people at the centre of it. More precisely, I talked Tomasz Sikora from a local vinyl café (WINYLOWA) who cut his teeth on vinyl discs and — additionally — is the creator of the Record Store Day event in Poland.
Cultivating music culture of vinyl records is worth it.
During our plus-two hour long conversation we formed a couple of interesting observations. One of them is that there is a noticeable yearly increase of interest towards vinyl records, especially among people not necessarily playing videogames, and it should surprise no one that the growing sector of vinyl buyers favors the creation of new labels and transformations inside the music industry itself. Another factor that influences the growing popularity of vinyl game soundtracks is the sentiment towards old-school titles from our childhood times.
So is it worth it to buy these black discs? As an avid supporter of this format I’d say it’s an individual matter, because there are people who buy such releases to, say, follow a trend, or because they are collectors, or they may enjoy high quality of sound or it’s simply the mentioned sentiment. One should remember that vinyl records still influence the graphic design culture of packaging and the production of music itself. In my opinion these arguments speak for themselves and show it is worth it to cultivate the culture of vinyl records.
gamemusic.net: How has your passion for music changed your life?
Tomasz Sikora: For the past 20 years I was working for two international corporations and I’d been okay okay with that up until the time when I decided to create my own vinyl business. At some moment I realized that both parts of my life are out of balance and one started to outweigh the other, so I decided to quit working for corporations.
gamemusic.net: Can publishing market still bring income considering growing interest towards cheap access to digital music?
Tomasz Sikora: I still remember my initial surprise when I got my hands on one of the streaming apps, and later I started wondering: why? But after some time I realized it’s an idea for business and despite massive competition there is a place for everyone on the music market. Moreover, at this year’s Record Store Day you will be able to find releases published by Tidal. It is by such publishing practices that a company like that can promote young artists and discover new music trends.
Of course, digital music messed around the music market considerably and competes with vinyl music, but on the other side of things, it’s a big format from the perspective of music trends. So it is surely a healthy competition that mutually boosts each other’s sales.
At this year’s Record Store Day you will be able to find releases published by Tidal.
gamemusic.net: Why does Japan no longer produce vinyl records on a mass scale, what can be a reason for that?
Tomasz Sikora: The answer is simple – in the 90’s the CD format pushed them away permanently in Japan, but it did so all over the world as well. In that time phonographic labels were slowly pulling out of vinyl production because of falling demand while the consumers were delighted with mobility and practicality of CDs. That delight caused for one format to completely push away the other. It also caused a downfall of some labels and factories, while the people, who were honing their production skills for years, left.
Only for just a few years that business has been slowly coming back from the grave and at the time new factories are being built, but unfortunately they are nowhere near the ones from the 70s when it comes to quality.
gamemusic.net: Have you ever skipped a meal to afford a very unique vinyl?
Sure, I often I give up stuff, but not food. It’s usually daily pleasantries just to save up a little to later spend that money on a specific record.
Vinyl is his escape from daily responsibilities.
Tomasz Sikora: However, it’s a very dangerous addiction, comparable to other addictions like alcohol or drugs, where a person spends money not really caring about what they are buying. At some point I realized it’s time to slow down. The turning moment came from a rather practical standpoint – I had no more available space for the records in my home and cellar. A thought that this is it and it’s time to stop came into my mind and me and my wife decided to find a place for all of them, a place that would later serve as a store-place.
gamemusic.net: In what ways can you convince someone about the value of vinyl records, especially people who aren’t really fond of the format?
Tomasz Sikora: I managed to warm people towards them many times at my store, especially clients who didn’t even have a record player at their homes. I sentimentally recall one special customer who came to my store in 2017, bought a vinyl and said something memorable to me.
He said: „I don’t know the vinyl culture, because I wasn’t brought up with it as a teenager. My father used to collect vinyl records but we weren’t listening to them. That’s why now I will buy a record from you, I will leave it here at your store just so I can listen to it here”. We became friends after a while and began talking on many subjects. He told me once that vinyl is his way of escaping the daily responsibilities. It gives him a feeling of stopping for a moment and allows him to appreciate music more by listening to it on vinyl.