March 14, 2023
Fortune recently published an article written by Jay Zagorsky, Clinical Associate Professor in Markets, Public Policy, & Law, discussing the shockingly high sales of vinyl records and the growing popularity of older technologies.
Even with more ways to consume music, record sales have reached their highest point since 1988. In 2022, vinyl record sales surpassed CD sales for the first time since the late 1980s. Although there are many theories as to why consumers are choosing records over CDs, Zagorsky suggests the most likely reason for the resurgence of records was identified by economist Thorstein Veblen in the late 1890s.
Veblen wrote an influential book called, “The Theory of the Leisure Class” explaining that people often buy items as a way to gain and convey status. According to Veblen, not everything in life is purchased because it’s easy, fun, or high quality; sometimes hard, time-consuming, or exotic items possess more status. Zagorsky elaborates on this idea by stating that buying and playing vinyl records is becoming a status symbol even though playing music has become effortless with smart speakers like Siri or Alexa.
“Playing a record on a turntable takes time and effort. Building your collection requires thoughtful deliberation and money. A record storage cube alongside an accompanying record player also makes for some nice living room decor.”