There's a certain labour of love associated with vinyl records. You get to put a lot more input into your music. Where some people may be content to just press download and play without even having to get out of bed, I myself enjoy the process that goes into searching for and playing a record. Making a trip down to the record store and searching through bins of records for the one you are looking for adds an element of fun to the purchase. Finally finding a record you have been searching for for months makes the music worth so much more than a digital download. Taking that album home, setting it up on your record player, flipping it over, makes the process much more physical than just pressing play on a CD. If an artist puts that much effort into the production of the record, the least we can do is give a little back.
Actually having a physical copy of a record also makes a big difference to the musical experience. Being able to actually hold the music, inspect it and read the insert rather than just having some MP3 downloads on your computer adds much more in terms of what you get out of the music. An artist spends a lot of time on their album artwork. Why waste it on a tiny thumbnail in iTunes? A vinyl record shows off the album artwork in the largest form, giving you the full experience that the artist intended. Having your records lined up on a shelf also adds to the aesthetic appeal. I would much rather have a bookcase full of books than an e-reader sitting on a shelf, why would music be any different? With most records coming with a digital download card, you don't need to worry about not being able to listen to the music on the go, so why wouldn't you want to get that full experience?
With a good set up, vinyl's can sound much better than an MP3. They carry a much warmer sound than the digital equivalent which can sometimes sound quite tinny. Although some people complain about distortions in the sound, I personally feel the crackles and imperfections add to the nostalgia of the record. Some people argue with today's compression and recording processes, new vinyl's are not that different to MP3's sound wise. Yes, there are some bad sounding records, just like there is some bad sounding CDs or downloads. However, if the artist has taken the time to make their album sound the best that they can, it will show in the sound quality of the record. Records also force you to listen to the album in order, again giving you the full experience of the album that the artist intended while writing it.
However, as much as I love vinyl records, there are a few downsides. You can get the average CD on iTunes for $10-$15 whereas new records can be upwards of $25. However, as discussed above, you are getting a lot more for your money. They can also be quite collectible as often limited quantities are produced and once they are gone you have to hope for a reissue. An MP3 will be worth nothing in 25 years, a record could have more than doubled in its value. There is also the downside of having to wait for the record. You can get a CD or download on the day of its release, however vinyl's usually take a little longer and often have later release dates. Include the time it can take to actually find the record and you could be waiting a while. Sure, I can order it online, but where is the fun in that?
Overall, records have much more to offer than digital downloads for the music consumer. There is still a long way to go. After showing my latest purchase to a friend she stated "are you going to hang it on the wall?" Support the artist and keep music alive. Buy vinyl. You wont regret it.