The methods in which we listen to music have taken many forms throughout the years.
Its latest phase is dominated by streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. These services have become such a big part of our day-to-day, it's easy to forget the era less than a decade ago when we relied on individual mp3 files for songs, or purchasing a song or album off iTunes.
Before that was the golden age of CDs. Before CDs were cassette tapes, which had followed 8-tracks.
If you trace the steps all the way back to the beginning, you'll arrive at vinyl records, arguably the purest way to listen.
Some argue the sound of a vinyl record is better than any other alternative. Others suggest it's all up to the speakers you are using.
The music certainly sounds warmer, but I think another big part of the vinyl appeal is that you have to work for it. You need to get the needle to hit just the right spot. You have to flip the record to listen to it in full. There's no shuffle button.
Not to mention all the extra artwork and creativity that goes into it.
Even though the times are always changing with new methods of consuming music, old school records have weathered the storm. In 2020, vinyl records outsold CDs in the United States.
It's not just musicians from the past that are seeing their records fly off the shelves. Many contemporary artists across all genres release their music in vinyl form. To this day they remain fan favorites.
But for as much of a resurgence vinyl may be seeing, it's still increasingly difficult to maintain a record store in 2021, especially in New Jersey.
In 2021 NJ lost the legendary Vintage Vinyl in Fords after 42 years of business. Other stores have had to shut their doors altogether or drastically downsize.
COVID-19 certainly played a part in the number of record stores in the state dwindling, but the costs to run a small business in New Jersey, as well as the dominance of music streaming, were also contributing factors.
Still, New Jersey is home to over 20 independently owned record stores that you can visit at your leisure. Some also offer online purchases.
See which stores are near you below.
Independently owned record stores in New Jersey
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.