You’d be surprised that the biggest buyers of vinyl today aren’t Gen Xers but Gen Zs.
When John Louie Guado purchased an original pressing but second-hand copy of The Best of Pinoy Folk, a compilation album released in 1982, he was surprised that when fishing for the liner notes, a slip of paper came out.
It was a one-page call to the then Philippine government to “dismantle the entire apparatus of military dictatorship” as written by the Law Student Government of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law in November of 1983. It was three months after the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr.
Guado recalled being mesmerized by this unexpected find.
Although music can be timeless, it is also a moment in time measured by the words and melodies— and sentiments of the time.
In one purchase, the point of music on vinyl was an epiphany for Guado.
Switching to vinyl
“I switched to vinyl because I wanted to have that ownership of a record a physical copy of someone’s music that is also the music of the times,” explained Guado who was 22 years old when he got The Best of Pinoy Folk in 2021.
“What I learned by listening to the entire record is there is something the artist wants to convey and it is also the history of that time. The letter from the UP students was a bonus, and it put everything in perspective.”
For 20-year old Miguel Fortuno, his vinyl moment was when one of his favorite bands, Wallows, was coming to Manila.
“I was aware of vinyl because my father would play his bossa nova records in the morning to subtly wake us up,” shared Fortuno. “And I would accompany him to record fairs. In those first few years, I would bring my skateboard to pass the time away. It was that moment when (American alternative rock band) Wallows was coming over that I decided that I wanted a record,” related 20-year old Miguel.
In 2022 alone, 51 local and independent artists (not counting the re-releases of the major labels) put out their music on vinyl alone.
“While it would have been nice to meet them and ask them to sign my record, owning a copy of their music made me feel a bit closer to the band.”
Prior to the Wallows album, Miguel also received Weezer’s white album as a gift. From thereon, it was like a domino effect.
“Since then, I would join my father in those record fairs and look for the music I like,” he cheerily said of his new passion.
His collection has since included records of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Nirvana to some current artists such as Alvvays and Faye Webster to name a few.
OPM on vinyl
Guado, on the other hand, does get records of foreign artists but much of what he collects are releases of Filipino artists.
“I focus primarily on Original Pilipino Music,” he said of his preferences. “I love our local music scene and I believe one way of supporting them is getting the physical releases of their music.”
Last April, during Pinoy Rock legends Maria Cafra’s album launch of Gintong Musika at Panahon—their first album in 33 years and in time for their 50thanniversary this calendar year—there were Gen Zs present at the show and they purchased copies of the record that they had signed.
Said the young lady with pink hair, “Nag-dive back kami into OPM history and nakilala namin ang Maria Cafra. Historic release ito kasi ilang banda ang tumutogtog pa rin sa 50th anniversary nila? At yung pag-discover namin ng mga OPM artists sa nakaraang dekada ay part-interest at part-nostalgia.”
Nostalgia does play a huge factor in the resurgence of vinyl. Its resurgence has continued unabated for over 12 consecutive years now.
Take for instance Gen Z jazz artist Laufey. The 24-year-old from Iceland has brought jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Chet Baker to the stream of consciousness of her generation. And even her records have been a best seller. During her recent Manila show, a lot of fans showed up clutching their copies of Everything I Know About Love, Laufey’s debut album, in hopes of getting them signed.
As of mid-September 2023, there have been 29 independent releases on vinyl.
When asked if these young fans had turntables to play their Laufey record, most of them said yes. Those who didn’t own a turntable said it was their goal or on their Christmas wish list to procure one this year.
Locally, while there is a large segment of society that prefers to listen to their music digitally or online, there is a growing number of music fans who have returned to the physical format as a means for releasing their music whether it’s on vinyl, compact disc, or cassette which has made a comeback too.
In 2022 alone, 51 local and independent artists (not counting the re-releases of the major labels) put out their music on vinyl alone. That is a huge jump from the 20-plus from 2021 and the most since 1991. As of mid-September 2023, there have been 29 independent releases on vinyl.
A young audience
Recent studies in the United States and the United Kingdom (as far back as 2021) reveal that an increasing segment of society that purchases music on vinyl are Gen Zs (more than millennials). While Gen Xers and slightly the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation remain the top demographic in terms of record buying, increasingly it is the younger set who has appreciated this medium of music appreciation and listening.
The Recording Industry Association of America reported that 25-to-34-year-olds and 18-to-24-year-olds accounted for 19 and 16 percent respectively of US new vinyl sales in 2018. This is valuable to artists who are not being paid what they’d like to be on streaming services. For artists, selling other merchandise has become increasingly important.
Now I understand why the older fans talk about the warmth of the sound and having a piece of art in their hands.
Conversely, what has become also important is how Gen Z music fans want to hold a piece of their favorite artists in their hands.
“For me, now I understand why the older fans talk about the warmth of the sound and having a piece of art in their hands,” agreed Guado. “I feel the same way.”
Fortuno agreed and said that when there is a record that he likes, he saves up on his school allowance to buy a copy.
“I think when you have a record, a t-shirt, or even a poster from the artist that you like, there is a deeper connection,” Miguel divulged.
As Maria Cafra’s legendary frontman Resty Fabunan exclaimed when those two Gen Z fans purchased copies of their new record and asked for a selfie, “Hindi ko akalain na magkaka-connection kami sa mga bata ngayon. Totoo talaga that music bridges all generations.”