When John Edwards was 15 years old, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was released and he was immediately taken.
“It always impressed me, because not only did you get the record, but you got a poster, you got stickers, you got cool photos,” he says.
With his company Renaissance Records, Edwards is taking the same approach—giving people extras.
North Phoenix-based Renaissance Records, which originally specialized in reissuing music onto CD, is releasing music on vinyl for the first time.
“Vinyl sales are actually the highest they’ve ever been since the 1980s,” says Devon Yancey, director of marketing and media at Renaissance Records.
“They actually in September of this year outsold CDs for the first time,” she says.
The company is expected to release more than 50 albums and singles in 2021. All vinyl releases include something extra.
Renaissance Records’ vinyl project began with the release “Anthology: 45 Years” from ’80s Canadian rock band Prism.
This limited-edition 180g album included trading cards of the original band members, restored liner notes, a poster, bumper sticker and lyric sheets.
Other vinyl albums available at Renaissance Records include music from Kayak, Shania Twain and Charlie.
Customers have the option to purchase directly from Renaissance’s website or purchase from the 300 online and physical retailers that carry its albums.
Renaissance Records was born in Nashville, when Edwards, an Arizona native, moved there in 1993.
“It was a very different landscape back then, because CDs were selling like crazy,” Edwards says. “And as the early 2000s kind of went on, we saw the writing on the wall. The big record stores were going to start kind of fading.”
In 2007, he moved to Arizona with the label, one of the first record companies to join iTunes, Edwards says.
Renaissance Records has licensed music from EMI-Capitol Sony Music, BMG/RCA/Arista and Universal Music Group as well as from individual artists. It has also licensed a library of live concert recordings, which are now a part of its Concert Classics series.
Artists included in the Renaissance Records library are Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Judas Priest and Blue Oyster Cult.
The company also releases music from new artists who have a similar sound to classic rock and country artists.
“I grew up with vinyl,” Edwards says. “There’s definitely a warmth in the vinyl.”
For Edwards, the sound of vinyl records cannot be found in digital presentations of music, which, he says, is a more mathematical representation of the music and is not what the artists originally envisioned.
“They wanted people to have an emotional response to the music,” says Edwards, who graduated from UA with a BS in physics and an MS in systems engineering.
“You see people who display album covers on their walls; there’s a reason for that. It’s a piece of art. It’s a piece of pop culture.”
Renaissance Records, renaissancerecordsus.com.