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The Return of Physical Media (and Why That's Important)!

Written by Ashley Parham. Published: February 28 2024


Physical media has made a big comeback in recent years. More and more people are realizing how streaming has impacted music, film, and TV. For instance, Best Buy no longer sells physical media. By and large, streaming services do not release DVDs of their original content. Unless a show is massively successful, like "Stranger Things", you won’t be able to purchase the season or series on DVD. More people are trying to grow their physical media collections in response to streaming services having the ability to remove content on a whim. Thankfully, in terms of music, despite the age of streaming, new albums are still being released on CD, vinyl, and cassette due to the demand of preserving media in a physical format. Here’s some ways to grow your collection of physical media, both new and old, without breaking your budget.


Thrift Shops

Most thrift shops have a media section. They tend to have a combination of DVDs and CDs. Thrift shops are intended to be affordable, so if you’re willing to take the time to sort through their inventory, there’s a good chance you’ll find something you like! Since thrift shops are constantly accepting donations, there may be newer content as well.


Local Record Stores

Go support your local record store! Most record stores sell a combination of new and used music. Used content is usually cheaper, unless it is particularly rare. Many record stores have social media accounts, so you can follow them to stay up-to-date on when they have sales. Depending on the store, they may also have a rewards program to gain coupons or discounts.


Online Record Stores

There are lots of places to buy physical media online. You can always visit a used goods site like eBay to find affordable media. EBay is similar to thrift stores in that new and old content is constantly being uploaded. Since it is a resale and auction site, there’s plenty of content available for lower than face value prices. There’s also specific websites like Sound of Vinyl which have rewards programs. On Sound of Vinyl’s site, you can get 20% off of an order when you sign up with your email, and you can join the rewards program to earn points each time you make a purchase. They have a wide variety of vinyl spanning from older music to modern artists.


Garage Sales

Garage sales are full of little treasures. Since streaming is so prevalent, and newer laptops are being sold without disc drives, many people do not have a way to use their physical media. This means they are likely to sell it or even give it away. If there’s a garage sale in your area, check it out. To find a garage sale, look for signs around your neighborhood or maybe just take a walk around your neighborhood on a Saturday morning. That’s when they’re most common. Some neighborhoods have designated days where the community will hold garage sales, so keep an eye out for that as well.


Friends and Family

Last but not least, check in with older family members. The age of streaming is still fairly new. Even when sites like iTunes appeared in the 2000s, people continued to buy CDs. There’s a good chance that someone you know still has a collection of DVDs, CDs, vinyl, or cassettes. It’s an easy way to gain access to physical media, and it may even be nostalgic. Gen-Zers are bound to not remember a time before digital streaming, but most of us still grew up with CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes. Let’s keep physical media alive!


Owning physical media is important. You are not guaranteed to have permanent access to digital content, so it’s best to start building your physical media collection now. Hopefully this guide will help you own your favorite album, TV show, or movie, so you can enjoy it any time you want.