An Absence of Vinyl in Newark

Originally appeared in Newance Magazine.

Records are making a comeback in a big way. The 2000’s have ushered in a new era of popularity for vinyl records – a booming vinyl resurgence in a most unlikely time: the digital age.

2019: an on-the-go time where everyone wants their content to be as mobile as they are, where everyone streams music and no one buys it – a portability-centric time that serves as the backdrop for an upturn of the least portable media, the vinyl record.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, CD sales are in steep decline while vinyl sales are growing. The RIAA also reported that vinyl sales accounted for over a third of physical sales revenue and earned $224 million in the first half of 2019. 

With record stores seeing increased traffic and new independent record stores opening, it stands to reason that a thriving metropolis like Newark would be in on the trend – but largely, they’re off the radar. 

There are a handful of record stores in Newark, but none with broad appeal or their finger on the pulse of the vinyl revival. There are record stores, but they’re either specialized or second-hand stores.

Organizations like Record Store Day promote independent record stores with exclusive releases from major artists. Stores like “Tunes” in Hoboken, “Iris Records” in Jersey City, and “Vintage Vinyl Records” in Fords participate in Record Store Day, but none of the stores in Newark do. 

“Memories of Soul,” a record store specializing in classic soul music, is one of the few record stores left in Newark.

“Local record stores?” asked owner John Mobe, who is in his late-50’s. “There are none.”

Mobe has noticed the surge in vinyl popularity. “I like it for the kids,” said Mobe, “they want to experience it. Have I noticed it growing? Yes.”

Despite records making a comeback, Newark is underrepresented in the market. The record stores open for business don’t sell new records, only a selection of old ones. They function more as pawn shops and thrift stores.

The sales of records continue to climb and artists with new releases frequently offer limited pressings, especially for Record Store Day. It remains a mystery why Newark is absent from the scene.

“Memories of Soul” isn’t affiliated with Record Store Day. It doesn’t appeal to Mobe.

“I do what I love,” said Mobe. “I don’t do it for the promotion, for the glory, for the whatever. I just love music, and I love the history of music, and what it really means to people – not financially.

“What it means to people, what it does to the soul.”

Published by Christopher Goodlof

Writer, Visual Artist, Musician

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