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Why would anyone purchase expensive, natural resource-intensive, and seemingly obsolete material carriers of music when streaming providers provide unlimited access to over 40 million songs for a small monthly fee? As I will show, we can no longer assume that contemporary interest is driven solely by a collector’s market or because of the audible qualities of the vinyl listening experience, and must attend to the many ways people engage with record objects today – and by extension, the vinyl record as an ontological multiple. Through an analysis of Record Store Day 2015 and affiliated phenomena including YouTube unboxing videos, other social media activity and the Discogs resale market, I will demonstrate that the vinyl record gains value when the lived experience of materiality becomes an event and enables the performance of self in social contexts. As I will show, while certain types of actors have appreciably benefitted from the recent revival of interest in vinyl (e.g. brick and mortar stores, mastering engineers, manufacturing plants, and ancillary service industries), others have not to the same extent (e.g. musicians, independent record labels).


This article was originally published in Journal of Cultural Economy 13(6): 690–708, available at



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