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Vinyl Is a Music Choice: The Right One

Stocks in this article: AAPL AMZN P

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Sometimes music fans just like to have their choices validated.

In a span of five days spent selling old Peter Lemongello and Ray Conniff records acquired as part of large auction lots and surfing a reggae-record site for '70s soul albums and '60s French girl-group compilations, I started to ask myself why I do this. We've reached a point where "owning" music is wholly unnecessary.

Whole Apple (AAPL) iTunes libraries sit dormant, digital music and CD sales are slumping and streaming services not only grew 32% in 2013, but made up 16% of all recording revenue.

So why would anyone choose to not only purchase music, but pay a premium for it? Why would vinyl buyers increase that medium's sales by 31% last year to 6 million albums and 250% since 1993 as the rest of music saw sales plummet 50% post-Napster? As Gizmodo writer Mario Aguilar wrote earlier this month, vinyl listeners enjoy the medium more and are willing to buy into the experience.

The people who actually care about the experience of ownership are increasingly turning back to vinyl because it gives you a physical experience that's more fulfilling than a simple CD purchase. There are a few reasons this might be the case, but it all boils down to experience: a warm and fuzzy happy feeling you get from buying and playing LPs that you just can't get from any other source.

There have been a few attempts to justify why this is happening. Die-hard vinyl collectors and fans argue that it's about sound quality, but CDs produce quality 7.5 times more full than terrible, compressed, "lossy" digital formats buyers are accustomed to. In many cases, modern records are transferring digital recordings to analog format and stifling the true analog sound buyers are seeking. Neil Young's PonoMusic, meanwhile, has taken in roughly $5 million through its Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to bring high-definition digital music files to the masses. So that takes quality out of the equation.

Convenience? There's just about nothing less convenient than a vinyl LP. They're bulky, they're fragile, there's the ever-present sound of subtle scratch on any record not kept in absolutely pristine condition. Oh, and you can't just download one to your smartphone or play it on any app-enabled device. However, just about every new album comes with either a CD copy, a little insert with a code for a digital download or, in the case of Amazon's  (AMZN) AutoRip, includes a digital copy automatically added to a cloud-based account or player.

Ultimately, it comes down to aesthetics and preference as the tiebreakers, and there's nothing wrong with either.

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