In 2008 it was hard to find feel-good stories about the music industry—you know, the type that populate your local trade rags and second-tier business sections, or at least did until the world economy went kerplooey—which was probably why the popularity of the “vinyl is back” piece, in which a somewhat statistically significant jump in the sales of vinyl got turned into the latest harebrained scheme to save the music industry, remained high throughout most of the year.
After all, what wasn’t to love about these stories? Not only were they easy to write, and not only did they slap a happy face on the increasingly rough times faced by the music industry, they allowed boomer-exceptionalist types, slightly confused audiophiles, and those people in need of interior-design elements for their homes to come together as one and say, “yes, we can… try to find a turntable at our local Best Buy.” Not that doing so was always successful (never mind actually finding LPs in that store’s music-averse layout)!
Perhaps predictably, the nadir of this phenomenon came via the New York Times‘ Sunday Styles section, which turned format fetishism into something that could make you look almost as cute as the $200 long underwear advertised on the facing page. (Actual quote: “Collecting expensive, unwieldy LPs is a conspicuous way for the superfans to advertise their cognoscenti status.”)
So, please, a request: For 2009, let’s have a moratorium on these sorts of stories until some enterprising band out there (cough cough) brings back the vinyl-embedded video game. Just think: Doing so can finally unite the vinyl-related stories and their almost-as-annoying cousins in verbiage, which enthuse over Guitar Hero and Rock Band as if they’re thousand-dollar iTunes Store gift cards handed out to every man, woman, and ADD-addled teenager in America!