With music so readily available to stream or download online, it seems the days of buying physical albums are long over. However, the popularity of vinyl LPs seems to only be increasing. Audiophiles and nostalgic music fans alike have been buying more records than ever before.
On Oct. 14, the first of this year’s semi-annual Binghamton Record Fair was hosted at the Days Inn on Front Street. With nearly 100,000 CDs, DVDs and records in tow, local suppliers and music shops from all around the state came to display the finest in new, rare and vintage albums. With albums from the likes of jazz legend Bill Evans to offerings from pop-punk superstars Green Day, Binghamton’s Record Fair caters to all music fans, from the devout collector to the casual listener.
Binghamton University student Michelle Kikel, who left with a handful of CDs ranging from The Smiths to the New Pornographers, said she enjoys coming to the Record Fair as a means of finding new music.
“What I like is that you can come across music you may not know as opposed to just looking for something you like,” said Kikel, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience.
Located in the lobby of the Days Inn in Downtown Binghamton, the small space is transformed into a sort of musical haven with seemingly countless albums adorning both the walls and booths. Shops and collectors make their way to several record fairs all around the country, hoping to find customers and like-minded music fans to revel in the long-standing tradition of music swapping.
Vinyl collectors such as Steven Rock of Utica, N.Y. use events like the Binghamton Record Fair to expand outside of their usual market. Having collected records since childhood, Rock recalls the resurging popularity of vinyl in the past 15 years.
“With the introduction of eBay, I was finally overseeing new sales and began making money off of this as early as 1998,” Rock said.
At Sunday’s show, Rock saw everyone from avid collectors looking for original Buddy Holly pressings to students like Jesse Gillenwalters, who bought Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” from his booth.
“I like that not only do they have older albums but that this supports local suppliers,” said Gillenwalters, a junior majoring in economics. “There is a social aspect to this as well, since you can meet other music fans.”
Gillenwalters, like many other students at Sunday’s event, enjoys not only hearing albums on vinyl, but the experience of looking for and taking home physical copies of beloved records. The event, in addition to vinyl, provides a variety of listening formats with a wide range of cassette tapes, eight-tracks and CDs as well.
With illegal downloading so easy nowadays, it’s a wonder that students would still be willing to go out of their way to buy music.
“Illegal downloading is bad,” said Mercedes Koo, a junior majoring in biology with a handful of Pat Metheny, Talking Heads and Elton John albums. “So today I thought I’d buy some CDs!”
The Record Fair embraces this ideology, harking back to a time when music fans could whet their appetites by taking their favorite albums home.