Florida Atlantic University is offering a free and legal way for music lovers to add to their collections, with no downloading required.
The university's Recorded Sound Archives at the Wimberly Library, which collects and preserves music, is holding its third annual giveaway of vinyl records Jan. 6 to 10. The retro collection includes more than 2,000 albums from some of the biggest stars from the 1940s to the 1990s, including Glenn Miller, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow.
There are also a number of Broadway cast albums, including "Fiddler on the Roof" and "South Pacific," Christmas albums, Jewish albums and some specialty records like "25 Polka Greats."
And if you think vinyl is dead, think again. It was the fastest growing music format for the first six months of 2013, according to Nielsen Soundscan, which compiles music sales. During that period, 2.9 million vinyl albums were sold, a third more than the previous year. Vinyl accounts for about 2 percent of all albums sold.
"Five years ago, 80 percent of my sales came from CDs and 20 percent from vinyl. Now it's 90 percent vinyl," said Ritchie Siegrist, owner of the Record Rack, which sells new and used music in Pompano Beach. "People have found that the quality of sound is far superior to a CD or an MP3."
The FAU music archives has been accepting donations of old records since 2002. It started with a focus on Jewish music and later expanded to include classical, jazz, opera and children's records. The music is digitized and archived, and available to students, faculty and researchers. Some recordings are also available to the public online.
The records that FAU is giving away either don't fit into FAU's collections, or they are duplicate copies.
"These excess recordings pile up over time, so each year we give the community a chance to browse through them and take what they want," said Maxine Schackman, director of the archives.
Ben Roth, an archivist for the FAU Sound Archives, said vinyl has a "warmer sound, not as sterile," as digital music.
Today every major music label is releasing new albums and re-releasing old ones on vinyl, Siegrist said. Turntables and needles are easy to find in stores. In addition to specialty shops, vinyl records and accessories can be found inside big chain stories such as Best Buy and Urban Outfitters.
Classic rock is particularly popular on vinyl, including albums by the Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, Siegrist said.
Roth said he was surprised at how popular the giveaway was last year, particularly with students. The collection started with more than 20 cartons of boxes, and by the last day, only two cartons were left.
"Some gave them to their grandparents. Some kept them for themselves and played them on turntables given to them by their parents," he said.
The library will also offer a small collection of music on cassettes and 8-tracks, but demand for those has remained relatively low, Roth said.
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If you go:
What: FAU vinyl music giveaway
When: Jan. 6 to 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Fifth floor of the Wimberly Library, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
For more information: Contact Maxine Schackman at 561-297-2207 or firstname.lastname@example.org