Vinyl record sales were already rising, with last year being their 15th straight year of growth. But with the pandemic, they’ve been stratospheric with 27.54 million records sold in 2020. This trend has helped independent record stores across the country, including Bloomington music store, Tracks.
There were more vinyl sales than CD sales last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
“[Records are] huge now, especially during lockdown,” IU junior and Tracks senior associate Emily Morris said. “I feel like everybody was kind of looking for a hobby.”
Morris said the store’s vinyl sales were high during the beginning of the pandemic. When they were closed in March and April, Tracks was getting about 20 online record orders daily.
The store sells original spirit wear, records and CDs.
Morris said the store carries records and CDs covering genres such as pop, rock, jazz, country, reggae, blues and hip-hop. The majority of the vinyl selection is newer music, she said.
“When you think of a record store, I feel like you typically think of flipping through a bunch of used records that were pressed back in the ‘60s or the ‘70s,” Morris said. “I would say that we're different in the fact that we carry completely new music because that's actually pretty rare for record stores to have brand new stuff.”
Tracks’ highest grossing vinyl section is modern day hip-hop like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar, according to Morris.
Freshman Sydney Greggs is a frequent customer at Tracks. She has been collecting records for years and owns a mix of older and newer music.
“I think Tracks is a very important piece of our community here at IU,” Greggs said. “I try to go in every time I’m at Kirkwood. There is something very special about buying a record from a record store opposed to online.”
Morris has worked at Tracks for around two years and is now a senior associate. She deals more with the music side of the store through managing vinyl orders and restocking the shelves. Sophomore and store designer Emily Regnery designs clothes for the apparel side of the store.
Tracks also sells apparel, and Regnery has been designing clothing for the store since October 2020. She pitches designs and works with her boss to see what would sell in the store.
Regnery said that as of recently, every three weeks she has a new design printed and sold.
“(I see my designs) just going through my Instagram and walking around campus,” Regnery said. “That's my favorite part of it, just having that connection.”
With record collecting making a return, Morris said that Tracks is more important than ever to the Bloomington community.