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Vinyl lovers propel growth to rival CDs

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l If, like me, you have a lot of friends who are music buyers, you’ve already heard the news — the music industry may earn more money from vinyl sales this year than CDs for the first since 1986.

According to stats released by the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl generated $224.1 million in sales during the first half of 2019 while CD sales generated $247.9 million. Considering the rate of growth for vinyl and the decline of CDs, there’s a chance vinyl could make up the difference in the second half of the year, and it seems certain to happen in 2020.

Those totals only include the purchase of new vinyl. If the money independent stores are making selling used vinyl compared to used CDs was factored in, I’m guessing vinyl revenue already has surpassed CDs.

Some of vinyl’s growth is cost related — more than twice as many CDs sold compared to albums, but albums cost significantly more than those little discs. But it’s also because of events like Record Store Day, which is held annually in April and expanded in recent years to include a Black Friday edition.

I’m sure there’s a line of people waiting for the doors to open this morning at Record Connection in McKinley Heights. Many times I’ve been in that line.

Today I have to work, and there wasn’t that “must-have” title on the release list to justify juggling my schedule, although I may stop in on the way home today to see if any copies of that Cheap Trick live set or the Hold Steady and Nick Lowe / Wilco releases survived the initial rush.

Record Store Day represents some of the worst elements of music consumerism — limited production that inflates demand, attracting those who buy up rare releases only to sell them at an inflated cost on sites like eBay; the endless repackaging of beloved releases designed to encourage fans to rebuy music they already own.

But the main event in April and the Black Friday edition happening today helped cultivate a new generation of music buyers. I’m not going to engage in the debate over what sounds better. But listening to physical music is a more participatory experience. It makes the music a primary focus of attention, not background “noise” while scrolling the Internet, reading a book, etc.

It’s also kept many independent stores in business. The number of record stores in America may be declining, but the rate of decline would have accelerated dramatically without it. And if RSD hadn’t created new music buyers, consumers wouldn’t be finding vinyl in places like Target and Barnes & Noble.

I’m a music consumer, not a music collector. I buy albums to listen to them, not preserve them in shrink wrap. That philosophy helps me avoid the lure of that limited-edition, colored-vinyl rerelease of an album I bought in the 1970s and still own.

It’s still not a cheap hobby, but it’s one that brings great pleasure. Maybe there’s a release on the Record Store Day Black Friday list that can be your gateway drug.

l For those who spent all their money on new vinyl and are looking for a bargain to see the musical “Mean Girls” when it opens Tuesday at Cleveland’s Connor Palace for a three-week run, it’s time to play the lottery.

“Mean Girls,” which remains a hot ticket on Broadway, makes discounted tickets available to fans through Lucky Seat lotteries in New York, and it also offers the option on the road.

A limited number of tickets are available for each performance for $35 each at luckyseat.com/ shows/meangirls-cleve land starting next week.

There is no cost to enter. Fans can register online and enter each day for a chance to win up to a pair of tickets for the following day’s performance. For example, the deadline is 11 a.m. Monday to win tickets for a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday performance. The drawing will take place at noon, and winners notified by email will have until 4 p.m. to purchase tickets.

The tickets are non-transferable, and the name on the order must match the name on the photo ID when picking up tickets at the box office.

Tickets still are available for the Cleveland run (availability is better on weeknights than weekends), but with top tickets selling for up to $139 face value, it might be worthy a gamble to play the Lucky Seat lottery.

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor for Ticket. Write to him at agray@ tribtoday.com

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