Joe's Record Exchange (Photo via Rachel Ravina)

‘It’s not going anywhere’: Vinyl record rediscovery happening in SWFL

The scratching sound an album makes just before the song starts to play is something vinyl enthusiasts look forward to.

A medium from another era is still very much alive, and there are multiple places to curb your vinyl addiction here across Southwest Florida.

Why music on vinyl?

J.W. Honeycutt, of Joe’s Record Exchange — which opened in September 2014 on First Street, in downtown Fort Myers — has been in the music industry since the mid-1980s, and he has been an avid consumer of vinyl.

J.W. Honeycutt, of Joe’s Record Exchange (Photo via Rachel Ravina)

Honeycutt credits his love of music to his upbringing, listening to the likes of Elvis Presley and Little Richard on his mother’s record player.

“I was just always a vinyl person,” Honeycutt said.

Justin Giustizia, of North Naples, calls himself a “curated seller” and cultivates product to sell to online clients from a variety of Southwest Florida record stores. As such — he roots for the success of music on vinyl music.

“I think we wanted the tangible again,” Giustizia said.

Both Honeycutt and Giustizia agreed the cover art is a significant part of the overall adventure of an album.

“It’s the first thing you really see, and it’s kind of the first thing that could feasibly sell you,”¬†Giustizia said.

WINK News posed a question to area viewers on social media: Are you a fan of listening to music on vinyl?

Donna D. Early said she’s able to experience vinyl with their children.

“I love that vinyl has made a comeback in popularity,” Early wrote. “Makes this old lady laugh that her grown kids now love it.”

For others, it’s about appreciation.

“Of course the original is the only way to appreciate a lot a lot of music you just can’t hear any other way,” wrote viewer Fred Shriber. “And with today’s equipment it has a great sound.”

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Rediscovering records as collections evolve

Honeycutt said there’s no one kind of customer walking through the door of the shop. People young and old are finding records in different ways.

“For young people, it’s just a total sense of discovery, because it’s all new to them,” Honeycutt said.

Both deal with a variety of age ranges, demographics and preferences in their day-to-day business dealings, but with vinyl, listeners are searching for the same thing.

Honeycutt and Giustizia agreed listening to music is an experience, and a physical one at that. The audiophile needs to place an album on the record player and listen to each side the whole way through.

“We like to collect stuff, and you can’t collect streaming, you can’t collect downloads,” Honeycutt said.

No matter the customer’s personal preference, Honeycutt praises people’s diversity of taste in cultivating a collection.

“That’s one thing that’s different about today’s record buying than it was back in the day,” Honeycutt said. “Back in the day it was more cliquish.”

However, if vinyl is your passion, it can be pricey, Giustizia warned.

“This can be a hobby, or is a hobby to a lot of people, and this is one of the most expensive hobbies I have ever heard of in my life,” Giustizia said.

Is vinyl back?

Audiophiles and rookies alike are searching for music being sold on vinyl.

Joe’s Record Exchange (Photo via Rachel Ravina)

Billboard’s Top 10 vinyl albums for the week of Feb. 17 featured Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” at No. 1, while Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” moved up six spots to No. 3 from the previous week.

As records rediscover their popularity among consumers, they’ve had an impact on the music industry as a whole.

“LPs have been enjoying a comeback in recent years, and the vinyl record is the only format of music available that has recorded positive sales growth from 2009 to 2017,” according to research from statista.com.

Honeycutt explained the peaks and valleys the album has experienced and will likely continue to experience, but he feels vinyl is here to stay.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Honeycutt said.

In 2017, rock music sales accounted for 53.9 percent of vinyl album sales for the year, according to research from statistica. The pop genre music followed as the second-highest vinyl album sales grossing genre for 2017 with 14.4 percent in sales.

Critics of vinyl

Some might enjoy the nostalgia that comes with listening to an album on a record player, while others prefer to enjoy music through more current mediums.

“(CDs) are just fine, more adaptable, and much more convenient. Somebody is just making money off them while they can,” viewer Betty Masters said.

WINK News also conducted a poll on Twitter asking if people purchase albums on vinyl. The majority do not.

Other vinyl opposers cited price and convenience as reasons to listen to music on CDs or through online streaming services.

“Every song ever made instant you have it at all times on your phone,” said viewer Bob Buhler. “(It’s) way way cheaper. sounds the same.”

WINK News also conducted a Facebook poll inquiring how people prefer to listen to music. The results showed the majority prefer to use their phone.

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Giustizia said he does use streaming and other methods of listening to music, but prefers the older ways. 

But to the critics, he had one request.

“Come over, let me put (on) that album you like or that you still listen to or that song, there’s that music, and let me show you how good it can sound,” he said.

What’s your favorite record?

Does everyone have a favorite record? The question is easier to answer for some, than others.

For Honeycutt, he said he’s had the same favorite album for most of his life: The Monkees’ “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.”

He emphasized the nostalgia factor for this specific piece of music.

“I’ve had it. It’s been a part of my life since I was about 8 or 9 years old,” Honeycutt said.

Giustizia said he loves Ege Bamyasi’s “Can,” a German crowd-rock band from the 1970s because “it’s just funky.” He added he had another favorite with local roots to Southwest Florida.

Justin Giustizia (Photo via Rachel Ravina)

Giustizia described a reissue of Painted Faces’ “Anxious Color,” as a garage-rock band from the “psychedelic world,” and said he loved the band’s album cover photo taken in Fort Myers, the City of Palms.

“I did my research and … this is out of Fort Myers, Fla.,” Giustizia said.

Despite the changing tides of music preferences, Giustizia remained firm in his beliefs.

“I fight to the death to tell you that you can hear the difference in vinyl compared to digital any day of the week,” Giustizia said.

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