If you’re a vinyl record aficionado like me, you probably wish you could take your record player everywhere you go. Unfortunately, since you can’t do that, you’ll have to settle for the next best thing: digital versions of our favorite music.
This begs the question: do vinyl records come with digital downloads?
Yes, they do. Though, nowadays, there are only a few that offer this service, such as Amazon’s AutoRip.
Read on to find out more about the availability of digital downloads with vinyl record purchases. We’ll also talk about why digital downloads are becoming a thing of the past and whether vinyl records sound better than digital ones.
Do Vinyl Records Come With Digital Downloads?
Yes, vinyl records come with digital download cards, with Amazon AutoRip being at the forefront of this service.
However, the availability of digital downloads with vinyl record purchases is gradually waning. This is due to the rise of more and more convenient and affordable streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music.
What Is Amazon AutoRip?
Amazon’s AutoRip service was initially made available by the online retail giant in 2013. It gives users access to free MP3 digital downloads with each purchase of a vinyl record album. Amazon initiated this service to eliminate two primary concerns associated with vinyl records: convenience and portability.
One of its best features is that it isn’t limited to records bought since 2013. You can get digital downloads for vinyl records you purchased through Amazon going as far back as 1998. This is great news for those with damaged, misplaced, or lost old records.
Once your purchase goes through, AutoRip allows you to download the file to your device or stream the digital version of your record through your Cloud Player library. Bear in mind, however, that the digital file is typically available within 48 hours of your purchase.
It also makes music accessible anywhere at any time. It’s not really practical taking your record player everywhere you go.
So, by making digital downloads available with your record purchase, Amazon allows you to listen to your music wherever and whenever you want without purchasing the digital version independently.
Are Vinyl Digital Downloads on the Decline?
Amazon has become only one of a handful of record sellers that offer free digital downloads with each vinyl purchase. In contrast, the availability of digital downloads with vinyl records was the norm a few years back.
You may be asking why this trend is starting to decline. The answer mainly revolves around the meteoric rise of streaming services as the number one platform for playing music due to their convenience and affordability.
Streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, give you access to millions of songs with a small monthly subscription fee. Even with the limitations of a free plan, you still get a pretty impressive amount of song options. It goes without saying that this is much more cost-effective than buying the digital version of each album or song separately.
Another reason for its past popularity was that it made sense to have digital downloads with vinyl records.
Not only that, but it was the best option for the buyer. The only other option was either buy the digital format separately or try to digitize the vinyl records yourself, which was tedious and complex. So, the easy fix was to just go along with it and take the digital downloads.
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However, over time, offering digital downloads with each vinyl purchase became more of a hassle for record companies. Plus, it sets them back money-wise. In addition, with the decline in the use of digital downloads and the rise of streaming platforms in their stead, these costs are becoming less and less justified.
While a company the size of Amazon can easily absorb these costs if it means catering to the needs of those who prefer digital downloads, the same isn’t true for smaller enterprises.
This is especially true when you consider that most people who buy vinyl records never even use the accompanying download card.
Therefore, if you’re a fan of digital downloads, you’ll be disappointed to hear that this trend is likely to continue. As music streaming platforms gain even more traction, the availability of digital downloads with vinyl records is slowly but surely going to become a thing of the past.
Vinyl vs. Digital: Which Is Better?
Say we take convenience and portability out of the equation. Then, which format comes out on top: vinyl or digital?
When it comes to sound quality, digital music formats simply aren’t up to par with vinyl records. The vintage music format has a rich and pure sound like no other.
Here are a couple of reasons why vinyl is every audiophile’s favorite way to listen to music.
Vinyl Records Sound More Authentic
The first reason behind the superiority of the sound produced by vinyl records is that it’s as close as you can get to the artist’s original sound.
When vinyl records are made, the artist’s voice is reproduced and engraved into the grooves of the record exactly as it sounds right there in the studio. This is why each time you listen to a vinyl record, it feels as though you’re sitting front-row listening to a live performance of the song.
In contrast, digital records are heavily edited and modified. This leads to the music sounding less natural.
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Audio on Vinyl Records Doesn’t Need to Be Compressed
Another significant difference between vinyl records and digital formats is storage space. More often than not, the quality of digital music is constrained by the fact that the file has to be small enough to fit on your phone or hard drive. This forces producers and engineers to sacrifice sound quality to compress the files.
On the other hand, storage space isn’t an issue in vinyl records. Music producers are only limited by the ‘revolutions per minute’ (RPMs) of each record, which gives them plenty of space to showcase the artist’s vocals. Thus, sound on vinyl is always crisp, natural, and highly superior to digital recordings.