By Felicia LaLomia and Louis Walker
Olivia Evans is searching for the perfect song to play. Flipping through her choices, she passes The Temptations, Ray Charles and the Commodores before selecting a more modern choice, Muse. The 13-year-old pulls out the vibrant blue and black cardboard sleeve from the stack and hands it over to the Nicole Berroyer, deejay of the evening. Berroyer slides the large black circular vinyl from its protection and places it on the turntable, carefully picking up the needle and playing the first song.
“I like just how it works,” Evans said, “I think the sound is so good and just the experience of putting the record on the player and lowering the needle.”
The young Ronkonkoma native participated in Connetquot Public Library’s Vinyl Listening Night on April 12, run by librarian-deejay Berroyer, who started the event last April. Music is what drew the 10 community members in, the librarian said.
“I have a bunch of regulars,” Berroyer, who hosts the event monthly, said. “The age range is from super young to super old. We have a few people who just want to listen to their records, but everyone wants to listen to music.”
Just a few seats down from Evans are JoAnn and David Millard, who starting coming to the vinyl listening nights when they found old records in their basement one year ago.
“I think [vinyl] sounds great,” 70-year-old David Millard said. “Even a little crackle now and again. If there’s a particular song you like, you can pick it out and drop the needle down. [Vinyl Listening Night] is just fun because you hear songs you forgot all about because somebody brought it on vinyl.”
Vinyl album sales in the United States hit their 13th consecutive year in growth. Almost 17 million vinyl albums were sold in 2018, up 14.6 percent from 2017, according to Nielsen Music. Long Island record stores are seeing this difference.
“We’ve been bringing tons of new product,” Stu Goldberg, owner of Mr. Cheapo Records, said. “Fifteen years ago, I was thinking about eliminating vinyl completely but here we are eliminating CDs instead. It’s the collectability of it. They love the novelty of it.”
Both of his locations in Mineola and Commack stock news artists, like Ariana Grande and classics, like the Beatles. But the rise of vinyl may be a reaction to the rise of digital.
“It’s part of it is a backlash against digital only,” Dan Warnken, owner of Vinyl Paradise, said. “You spend money on something you want to have something to show for it.”
For $20, a typical record comes with a download code to be able to have the songs in digital form.
“You still have the portability of a download but you have something you can add to your collection and the artwork.” he said.
The novelty, combined with the tangibility, is what draws a younger crowd towards vinyl, Olivia Evans said.
“Most of the people I know, if they do want records, they want them to put them on their wall or they don’t really listen to them,” she said of teens her age. “They don’t really want the old record players. They want the new cool ones.”
But for the older generation at the Vinyl Listening Nights, listening to records brings them back in time.
“I actually didn’t get it until I started coming here,” 65-year-old Jennifer Berroyer said. “I just think [vinyl] just brings you back to your youth.”