I started collecting records on vinyl back when I was 18. Naïve, confused but excited by this new adventure , I raided my dad’s record collection and perused the shops of Camden Town for some classic gems to kickstart my own collection.
My god I made some bad choices. I still shudder at the thought of me parting with £10 for three “AC/DC LIVE!” singles. I never even liked them, nor listened to them. But let me be – I was trapped in the exhilaration of becoming a record collector that I didn’t know any better.
But one question arises: why did I do it to myself, and my finances? Why does anyone collect vinyl anyway? Let’s address this with my three top reasons.
Vinyl records will help develop an emotional connection with music.
I’m going to be honest here: sooner or later you are going to do what every record collector does and buy Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon on 12 inch. It’s cliché but we’re all guilty.
Now let’s say it’s the first vinyl you bought – congratulations, you now own a record!
How do you feel? When are you going to play it first? Where are you going to store it? Who are you going to tell? Are you going to be “that guy/that girl” and take to social media?
All these questions race through your head because this is an exciting moment. Your emotions are aroused. You will remember this moment forever.
This is a completely natural phenomenon that has caught the attention of psychologists and sociologists alike. Ozgun Atasoy and Carey K. Morewedge argued that digital goods are valued less than physical goods. “Physical goods are valued more,” they conclude, “due to their permanence and greater ability to serve as a reminder of the past.” Essentially, you become excited and link this good feeling with the record itself – it will always have a special place in your heart. Isn’t that nice?
Collecting vinyls is going to make you lust for new content to your collection. You’ll spend weeks, or months, digging for your prize and bartering if need be. Eventually you’ll triumph and your new addition will become your latest prized possession and you’ll have a backstory ready to passionately tell.
2. Vinyl records will help you experience music.
Music in the internet age is now accessible simply at the touch of a button via streaming services or providers (iTunes, Spotify – you know the score). But digital music is transient in the sense that it serves satisfies spontaneous urges to listen to anything from To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar to ‘Candle in the Wind’ by Elton John (true story).
Vinyl records, however, don’t necessarily satisfy such spontaneous urges. Listening to vinyls is, instead, an experience. After all, can you truly cherish what you can’t hold?
Vinyls don’t offer snapshots of an artist like a playlist might, but instead offers you the music as it was intended to be heard –the finished product. The whole product.
You listen to the raw cuts, the subtle scratching. You feel like you’re in the studio hearing this for the first time and experience an existential listening experience. Maybe you’ll study the sleeve whilst you listen – the artwork, the lyric sheet, the effort that has gone into this album past a few songs you love.
Listening on vinyl will help you appreciate an album as a whole and as a work of art.
3. Finally, it will teach you to care for music.
“He’s scratching it now, cutting the record back and forth against the needle… but let me tell you something: don’t try this at home with your dad’s stereo, only under hip-hop supervision, alright?” Wise words from the Beastie Boys.
But they have a point – we’re all familiar with record scratching, but just don’t try it.
This advice however resonates with me as it demonstrates an imagined version of playing vinyls and a practical. We don’t scratch records because we don’t want to damage them – our collections become sacred as they grow and quality becomes precious.
You will begin to learn how to safely store records and not to expose them to heat, water, misuse and grubby hands. You will clean records and maintain them in the name of music quality. Much like a pet dog, you will develop as a person as you take responsibility of the life of a 12-inch plastic disc.
So there you have it!
Collecting vinyls, to me, helps you experience music on an emotional level, evoking memories whilst teaching you how to care. It will give you something to take pride in and, overall, is a fun hobby backed by a helpful, eager community.
So get out there and get that Darkside of the Moon – but be sure to avoid those 3 singles for £10 schticks for bands you don’t like. Unless you want them of course. Choice it yours.