Vinyl record collections popular among young adults


John Bricker

Kate Hartsell, co-owner of The Analog Room, sorts through vinyl LPs.

John Bricker, Staff Reporter

Brian Hartsell, co-owner of The Analog Room, a stereo and vinyl LP store in Campbell, took 11 boxes of records with him to a hi-fi show in New York in 1993, and returned to California with roughly $50,000. Hartsell said his wife, Kate Hartsell, suggested opening a record store soon after.

“It was a pretty good weekend,” Hartsell said.

Vinyl has become much more popular and accessible than it was in the 1990s, and LP sales climb year after year as more young adults start collecting them.

16.8 million vinyl records were sold in the United States during 2018, accounting for 12% of U.S. album sales that year according to Statista’s analysis of a Nielsen report. Statista reported that vinyl sales in the United States have increased every year since 2006.

Bryan Vo, a 20-year-old communications major who owns between 40 and 50 LPs, said he was surprised by vinyl’s share of 2018 album sales. 

“I didn’t think people still bought albums in 2018,” he said.

A 2017 Fortune article reported that young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are responsible for the resurgence of vinyl, and that one in four of them had bought a record in the past year.

Nathaniel Lopez, 19, film and television major, said that young adults collect records because their parents own turntables.

“Young kids are getting enamoured with older technology,” Lopez said. “I’d say that’s a pretty big movement right now.”

Brian Hartsell said that young adults buy vinyl because most new artists are not releasing quality music.

 “I remember my dad telling me that his generation was better than ours, and in some ways he was right,” he said. Hartsell said his children “don’t even bother having the argument.”

Kate Hartsell said she finds it refreshing to “see the new generations come in and ask for stuff that we’ve known about for 40 years.”

Vo called record collecting a “hipster type trend” and said he does not buy vinyl copies of new rap and trap albums like some collectors do.

“I like listening to the old records,” he said. “The way they made it, specifically.”

Lopez, who owns over 60 records, and said he listens to music on vinyl because it sounds better than CDs or cassettes when using the correct turntable and stereo.

Vo said he cannot tell the difference between digital music and vinyl, but enjoys collecting records and listening to music on a physical medium.

Brian Hartsell encouraged students who want to start collecting records to follow their personal taste and not worry about what is rare or collectable.

“You should have things you really care about,” he said. “Not as trophies, but as records you love to play.”