The joy of analog

For starters, digital media is going nowhere. It’s easily accessible, nearly instantaneous, and relatively cheap in comparison to physical versions of anything. It’s also easier to share and create content with digital media, making it an invaluable tool for marketing and other forms of communication. Additionally, digital media can be stored and accessed virtually anywhere, making it a great resource for both businesses and individuals.

However, despite the convenience and portability of digital media, there is still something to be said about the unique look and sound of analog. Vinyl records, for example, create a richer sound than compressed digital audio, and old film cameras create a distinct look that digital cameras simply cannot replicate.

In Japan (which, let’s face it, is so technologically sophisticated that you’re bound to see resurgences of old tech), cassette tapes are reaching a new level of popularity. For example, some tapes are being resold for upwards of $1000, making them more expensive than vinyl records. This renewed interest in cassettes is also inspiring a new generation of musicians to produce and distribute their work on the format.

This is partially due to the nostalgia factor, but also because of the unique sound quality that cassettes offer. Many music lovers appreciate the imperfections and warmth of the cassettes, and the physical nature of the medium. Additionally, cassettes are more affordable than vinyl, making them an excellent option for independent artists.

And as for vinyl album sales, records started seeing an uptick in purchases in the early 2000s. This trend has kept growing and today vinyl records are the fastest-growing segment of physical music. They are now the preferred format for many music fans who want to enjoy the highest audio fidelity and experience the artwork of the album.

In fact, in 2022, 43.46 million vinyl albums were sold, representing a 4.2% year-over-year increase and the largest year for vinyl album sales since 1991. 

Besides, they’re fun to listen to. This is in part due to the fact that vinyl records offer a tangible musical experience. The record must be placed, the needle must be positioned, and there is no repeating. You want to listen to it again, you move the needle. 

So that’s cassette tapes, and vinyl, and… VHS? Well, as a matter of fact, and, surprisingly, VHS has seen a resurgence in popularity. While the market for VHS tapes is still small, there has been a notable increase in people buying, selling, and collecting VHS tapes in the past few years. This renewed interest in VHS can be attributed to nostalgia, as well as the fact that VHS tapes often contain rare or hard-to-find movies and television shows. Collectors have also noted the unique aesthetic of VHS tapes, which are often seen as a more analog and physical way of experiencing media.

Recent trends on social media show increased use of early-aught digital cameras, highlighted by somewhat out-of-focus snaps; you can see them being carried at events by young adults and children who weren’t even alive when the cameras were produced. Which is part of the appeal. 

Were film purchasing and processing more accessible to this generation, the popularity of film cameras would likely move out of niche photographer and cinematographer circles. This could migrate film, again, into the mainstream. 

Books have maintained popularity owing to ease of entry (in the US, literacy rates are nearly 100%) and affordability. Records can be found for cheap in second-hand stores and at the library. They can also be checked out along with books from the library. And almost every city across the nation has a library. So you’d just need a record player.

While you’re at it, you could get one with a tape deck for less than $100. It’s amazing to think, as we moved into CDs and DVDs, onto streaming, and eReaders, and portable mp3 players, that the world would readily accept the older, more traditional analog forms of entertainment. And yet, here we are. Collecting, listening, and reading. Still seeing films in 35mm at the cinema – I’m actually going to the New Beverly this week, known for showing films in 35mm. 

And while analog entertainment may not be as modern as digital, it still has a special charm that resonates with people of all ages.


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