"Record Store Day" breathing new life into vinyl

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CBS

(CBS News) Some big-time musicians - like Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney - are releasing new music or playing live Saturday, because it's "Record Store Day." Organizers say this year's event is the biggest one yet.

It might seem like a foreign concept now, but for more than half a century records are how we listened to music. And now, it's back.

If you're a real audiophile, it's how you play music. If you're a band, it's why.

When asked what it is about vinyl that's so attractive, Joy Williams, part of the Grammy-winning country duo The Civil Wars said, "'What isn't there about vinyl?' is really the question."

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Video: Keeping vinyl records alive

Williams and John Paul White are one of the many artists breathing new life into a format long left for dead.

White said, "I grew up with, you know, my parents' records. And you had to, you know, you had to be so particular with them. And, you know, you revered them. They had a lot of weight. They had a lot of value."

Their vinyl single comes out tomorrow - the fifth annual "Record Store Day."

The Civil Wars talked about their single with Jeff Glor. Watch the video of that discussion in the video below.

Until the 1980s, vinyl reigned supreme before getting replaced by the cassette, CD, then MP3. But since "Record Store Day" began five years ago, vinyl sales have more than tripled.

The event now attracts artists like Coldplay and Katy Perry, and according to Billboard editor Joe Levy, plenty of newly-minted vinyl fans.

"It's sort of like finding a treasure," Levy said. "It's this feeling of, 'yeah, I know what music is, I don't know what this is. And you play it on... what? A record player?'"

Eric Astor runs Furnace Record Pressing in Fairfax, Va. In vinyl's heyday, there were around 75 record pressing plants in America. These days there are only 10 that remain.

Astor said the last record press was made in 1980 or 1981. "When we need a part, we make the part," Astor said. "We have nerds down in the basement carving out gears because that's what you need to keep this going."

Astor told CBS News they can't keep up with the demand for records. So why are so many people buying vinyl right now?

"Part of it is there's cool factor, but I also think people are starting to rebel against the digital format that everyone's been used to for the last 10 years," Astor said.

Before his death, Steve Jobs was working with music legend Neil Young to create better audio files.

Young said, "Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music. His legacy is tremendous, but when he went home he listened to vinyl."

So why does vinyl sound better?

Levy said, "When you take music to digital, you're losing a certain amount of information. You're clipping off the highs and lows. I can carry 10,000 songs in my pocket. But do they sound as good as the 12 songs on this record? No."

For The Civil Wars, vinyl is a medium worth passing on because, many years ago, someone did it for them.

"I've got my grandparents records," White said. "I don't have their hard drives."

  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.