When Italian disc jockey Paolo Campana travels, it’s no surprise he listens to a lot of music. But how he does it turns the heads of other travelers he encounters. Unlike most of them, he doesn’t plug into an iPod with 40,000 songs ready for instant playback. Instead he fishes out a 12-inch vinyl record from a large case, drops it onto a battery-operated turntable, lifts the arm over the record and sets the needle down on a track.
This is all too much trouble for most music fans used to the ease of digital media players. But for Paolo the difference between the sound of vinyl and that of mp3’s is like the difference between eating a meal at a five-star restaurant versus fast food. “The sound is so much warmer and more satisfying,” he states with conviction. “It’s the ‘slow food’ of the music experience.”
Paolo is not alone. The Vinyl market has been one of the few bright spots in the music industry in recent years. From 2006 to 2010, vinyl record sales rose over 300% and are still rising. Surprisingly it is young people who have grown up with digital entertainment who are leading this trend.
Writer Owen McCafferty is at work on a book explaining why. “Our generation has grown up in an entirely digital atmosphere. Music for most young people was always so detached and intangible. Vinyl satisfies that void of being so disconnected physically,” Owen describes this as the “digital devolution.”
Paolo’s own obsession with vinyl records prompted his 75-minute film, Vinylmania: When Life Runs at 33 RPMs. Set in 11 different cities worldwide and filled with fascinating characters, the film documents a global road trip exploring the role of vinyl records in the 21st century. The film airs on European TV later this year, but Paolo has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to distribute the film to a broader audience on DVD.
“Devotion, ecstasy, infatuation, agony—all the feelings I experienced from childhood, come out through the characters in this film,” says Paolo. The film features some key “vinylmaniacs.” Among the more well known are Klaus Flouride, bassist for the Dead Kennedys, and Winston Smith, artist for some of the Greenday and Dead Kennedys albums.
Vinylmania: When life runs at 33 revolutions per minute.